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01st Dec 2022

Everything you need to know about Lionel Messi and his last ever World Cup

Lee Costello

The good, the bad and the incredible.

We have been blessed as football fans to be able to watch Lionel Messi for so long, but with this probably being his last ever World Cup, here is everything you need to know about it.

All of the stats, facts, and records that he already has – and can potentially still get – are all right here, so you can sound like the greatest football guru in the pub.

Plus, you can beat those pesky commentators to the punch when it comes to noticing the significance of his next goal, appearance, or indeed, penalty miss.

Messi World Cup

How many World Cup goals does Messi have?

In five World Cups, Messi (at the time of writing) has bagged eight goals at the tournament so far, all of which have come in the group phases, meaning that he has never scored at the knockout stages.

Interestingly, this puts him level with Diego Maradona, the Argentina legend that he is so often compared to, so just one more would see him surpass the 1986 World Cup winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi’s contemporary rival, is also sitting handsomely on eight goals. It seems like every time one of them scores, the other manages to equal the tally soon after.

Messi World Cup

The PSG star isn’t Argentina’s top scorer at the tournament, however, as Gabriel Batistuta still holds that record, with 10 net bursters to his name.

Overall, however, Messi is Argentina’s all-time top scorer racking up an incredible 93 goals in 168 appearances for his national team, and still counting.

Following his incredible goal against Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup, Messi became the first player in the competition’s history to score in his teens, twenties and thirties.

Messi World Cup

How many World Cup appearances does Messi have?

Messi has played in 22 World Cup games, and with Argentina’s passage secured to the knockout stages this year, he should get to number 23 this Saturday against Australia, providing he doesn’t pick up an injury that might rule him out.

Argentina’s game against Poland saw the number 10 overtake his predecessor Maradona, who had 21 caps in the competition.

Messi first appeared at the World Cup in Germany back in 2006, when the then 18-year-old was just an exciting prospect, and although still an incredible talent, wasn’t trusted with enough responsibility by the manager, and didn’t feature much.

Messi World Cup

He did, however, get a goal against Serbia, making him the youngest Argentinian to score at a World Cup, and he also notched up an assist that day.

Just last week against Mexico, some 16 years later, the Barcelona legend got a goal and assist yet again, making him both the youngest and oldest player to do both for his country at the tournament.

If the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner plays this Saturday, he will equal Paolo Maldini’s record of 23 games in the tournament, making him third on the all-time list.

Messi World Cup

Miroslav Klose sits in second place with 24 caps, and fellow German Lothar Matthäus is top of the pack with 25, so if Messi were to make the semi-final, he will equal the record, and if he makes the final, he’ll go top of the list.

Not only that, but the game against Australia will also be Messi’s 1000th career appearance, so from Saturday onwards he can literally say before every match that he’s done this a thousand times already.

Messi World Cup

The not-so-good stats.

We already mentioned how the wonderful wizard is yet to score in the knockout stages, but there are some other stats that Messi would probably prefer not to have.

His penalty miss against Poland means that he became the first player in history to miss two penalties at a World Cup.

In 2010, when Maradona was actually the manager of the national team, the midfield maestro had a disappointing campaign, despite almost being at the peak of his powers.

Messi World Cup

At this stage, he had already spearheaded Barcelona to a European Cup, and was picking up Ballon d’Ors for fun, but in Africa, he remained goalless, and only contributed to one assist, which was for Carlos Tevez against Mexico in round 16.

If he were to have found the net just once at that tournament – and factoring in the penalty he scored against Saudi Arabia in this competition – it would have been Messi who became the first player to score at five World Cups. 

That merit, however, was awarded to his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has managed to score at least once in every tournament since 2006.

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