Argentina should not fear any team at the World Cup, according to Lionel Messi, but he urged fans to be calm with the tournament in Qatar less than a month away.
Argentina, the Copa America champions who have gone unbeaten in 35 games since 2019, has been drawn in Group C with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland in search of their first World Cup victory since 1986.
“Today we are doing well and people are excited and think that we will come back with the Cup, but it is not like that,” Argentina captain Messi told broadcaster Directv Sports.
“The World Cup is very difficult, many things have to happen (to win it), not only that we are doing well, many things that can leave you out and there are many teams that want the same as us and that are doing well.
“We are eager, we are going to fight, we are not afraid of anyone because we are ready to play against anyone, but with peace of mind.”
Argentina opened their 2018 World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Iceland, in which Messi missed a penalty, and finished second in their group before being eliminated in the last 16 by eventual winners France.
Messi believes the team’s first encounter against Saudi Arabia on November 22 will be crucial to its hopes.
“In the first minutes of the first game the nerves and anxiety are difficult to control. I think the first game is very important because starting with a win gives you peace of mind,” he said.
“Last World Cup, we started with a draw and I’ve always said that if I had scored the penalty and we had won it we would have changed the whole story.”
Argentina will play their final warmup match against the UAE on November 16.
Lionel Messi picks his title favourites for FIFA World Cup 2022
Argentina will enter the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a serious title contender due to the quality and experience in its ranks. While Lionel Messi will be seeking to win the coveted championship in what will almost certainly be his final World Cup, Argentina also has Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, and Lisandro Martinez in their team, making them one of the favourites.
Messi will lead Argentina’s push at the World Cup for the second time, trying to capture his second major international trophy after winning the Copa America last year for his first. While Argentina is expected to be one of the favourites, Messi believes France and Brazil will be strong rivals for the crown.
Messi was recently asked to declare his top picks for the championship tournament in Qatar. While he believes England and Spain will be favourites, the Argentinian is betting on Brazil and defending champs France.
“There are big teams like Brazil, Germany, France, England, Spain, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some. But if I have to keep one or two, today I think Brazil and France are the two big candidates for this World Cup,” said the Argentina maestro.
“They’ve had the same group (of players) for a long time, working well. France, aside from the last Euros when they were eliminated (in the last 16) and did badly, they have some impressive players. They have a clear idea and the same coach (Didier Deschamps). Brazil is similar (with Tite in charge),”