(CNN Spanish) — Lionel Messi is remarkably leading Argentina in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Albiceleste captain has so far three goals and one assist, with which he is about to tie his best mark in World Cups, when in Brazil 2014 he scored in four occasions and put in a goal pass.
Precisely in Brazil 2014, when Argentina was a finalist, it was where Messi had one of his best matches in the World Cup. Here we present this and other memorable World Cup matches of the Argentine captain.
The best 5 matches of Messi in World Cups
Goal and assist in his first game in a World Cup
It was in Germany 2006 when Messi played his first game in a World Cup. Argentina was playing Serbia and Montenegro in their second match of the group stage and wanted to secure their place in the round of 16 with a win. The game was very easy for the Albiceleste, so much so that at minute 41 they were already winning 3-0.
In the second half, at minute 75, Messi —a few days after his 19th birthday at the time— came on as a substitute for Maxi Rodríguez, who scored a double in the game. Three minutes were enough for the young Lionel to be present: in a play from the left wing, he provided a precise assist for Hernán Crespo to push the ball into the net and thus make it 4-0.
Carlos Tévez made it 5-0 at minute 84, which already seemed like everything in the match. However, in the 88th minute, Messi appeared, now on the right wing, to score his first goal in the World Cup. To date, the Argentine star is the seventh youngest player to score a goal in a World Cup.
Double against Nigeria in Brazil 2014
In the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Messi had already carried the team on his shoulder. In the first two days, two of his goals helped Argentina to beat Bosnia and Iran.
The final group match was against Nigeria and the Albiceleste wanted to close their round perfectly. And so it was, largely thanks to Messi. The Argentinian star scored twice in the 3-2 victory in that game, which took the team to first place in the group with 9 points and paved the way to the World Cup final against Germany.
This double has been the only one that Messi has done in World Cups.
Nigeria again… and Messi again: the dramatic pass to the second round
The group stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia was the complete opposite of Brazil 2014: Argentina reached the bottom of their zone with just one point, after drawing with Iceland and losing by a landslide against Croatia.
The Albiceleste absolutely needed a victory against their last rival, Nigeria, and hope that Iceland did not beat Croatia. The results were given: the Croats won 2-1 and Argentina took the victory by the same score.
Messi had not contributed in the annotations in the past two games, but against Nigeria he was the first to help the team, scoring at minute 14. The Africans equalized at minute 51; However, when everything was uphill, Marcos Rojo scored the winning goal a few minutes from the end of the game. With this, Argentina advanced to the round of 16 as second place in their group.
Assisting Messi, but it was not enough
As second place in Group D, Argentina had to face the first position in Group C, which was the French team, one of the favorites to win in Russia 2018 (and that’s how it ended up being).
If Argentina wanted to be a firm candidate for the cup, they had to beat the Gauls. The game got complicated from minute 13, when Antoine Griezmann scored via penalty. However, Ángel Di María put the ball into the net with a very powerful shot from outside the area before the end of the first half.
The Argentine illusion grew with the goal of Gabriel Mercado at minute 48, already in the second half. In the scoring play, Messi appeared: from the right wing, the soccer star took the ball in the big area and attempted a shot, which ended as an assist, as the ball ended up hitting Mercado’s right foot.
But Benjamin Pavard and Kylian Mbappé almost completely ended the joy of the South Americans, because in a period of just over 10 minutes (at 57, 64 and 68) they scored a goal and a double, respectively, to leave the score 4- two. Messi reappeared to revive, at least for an instant, hope: at minute 93, he put an exact cross at the head of Sergio “Kun” Agüero, who scored the goal. The effort was not enough and the Argentines ended up eliminated in the round of 16 with a score of 4-3.
After a cloudy start in Qatar 2022, the Argentine star appears
Argentina arrived at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as one of the favorite teams to win it, as Lionel Scaloni’s team had gone 36 games undefeated and arrived as the champion of America (and of the “Finalissima”).
The debut match in Arab lands was against Saudi Arabia, so a victory for the Albiceleste was predicted.
Messi opened the scoring of the match with a penalty just at minute 10, which made the Argentines grow euphoric. However, everything fell apart in the second half: with a great tactical approach and two goals in a span of 5 minutes, Saudi Arabia broke the bets and won the game, in what is perhaps the biggest surprise of the World Cup.
The “Scaloneta” did not want to go through the same situation as in Russia, and for this they had to beat Mexico in the second group game. With a defensive lineup, the Mexicans did not let Argentina score a goal in the entire first half. But, at minute 64, Messi was present with a magical move: he received the ball on the edge of the crescent of the area, from where he took a placed low shot that beat Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa. The match ended 2-0 thanks to a goal by Enzo Fernández at minute 87 from a pass from Messi.
With those three points, Argentina rose from their initial stumble and, in their third game, beat Poland 2-0 to secure first place in Group C. In the round of 16 against Australia, Messi again helped with another goal in a match that ended 2-1. Now, the rival is the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. Will the Argentine captain appear again?