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Soccer

Can Leo Messi find his form with PSG before the 2022 World Cup?

Argentina are one of the 2022 World Cup favourites with Scaloni’s side set to face Poland, Saudi Arabia and Mexico in the group stage.

Update:
Argentina's Lionel Messi (L) vies for the ball with Honduras's Hector Castellanos during the international friendly match between Honduras and Argentina at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on September 23, 2022. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)
CHANDAN KHANNAAFP

By his own admission, the 2021-22 season was not a vintage campaign for Lionel Messi. The Argentine star left Barcelona after 20 years in the summer of 2021 after more than 20 years with the Catalan club and struggled with new team Paris Saint-Germain, having required a year to settle in after his move to France.

Messi scored just 11 goals in 34 appearances during his first season at PSG in 2021-22, but has already struck six times in 11 outings for the Ligue 1 giants this campaign.

 Paris Saint Germain's Leo Messi
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Paris Saint Germain's Leo Messi Mohammed BadraEFE

The former Barcelona man is also enjoying himself on the international stage, scoring twice and adding an assist as Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 34 matches with a 3-0 friendly win over Honduras on Friday.

Messi led his team for shots on target (three), touches in the opposition box (nine), crosses (three) and successful dribbles (two) in Miami, completing the scoring with a sumptuous 20-yard chip in the second half.

Speaking to TyC Sports after the victory, Messi compared his current form favourably with that of last season.

Messi: ‘I feel good’

“I feel good, different from last year and I knew it was going to be like that,” Messi said. “Last year, as I already said, I had a bad time, I never finished finding myself and this one is different. “I arrived with a different head, more accommodated to the club, to the locker room, to the game, to my team-mates. “The truth is that I feel very good and I have enjoyed myself again.”

Friday’s brace took Messi to 88 goals in 163 senior international caps, and he will join a select group of players to have appeared in five separate World Cups when Argentina begin their campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22.

The PSG forward believes Lionel Scaloni’s men are in a good place as their trip to Qatar approaches and is trying not to think about the possibility of his team suffering injuries before the event.

He added: “It is complicated - there are many games and little rest time, but you have to face it as always.

“If you are going to play matches thinking about the World Cup, taking care of yourself or not messing up, then in the end it can be worse. “I am one of those who think that things happen because they happen and if things have to happen they will happen. God willing nothing happens to anyone and we can all arrive at the World Cup as we are.

 Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina
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Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina Eric EspadaAFP

“We are enjoying every moment that we are together and seriously preparing ourselves when it is time to work, working on many things because it is the last time that we all have to be together, and there will not be much time before the first World Cup match.

“So, we took the opportunity to continue growing what we know and trying new things as well.”

Player photo
L. Messi
  • PSG
  • delantero
  • Argentina

Last dance for Messi in Qatar?

The 2022 World Cup will surely be the last time Messi pulls on the famous sky and white striped shirt for the Argentine national team and the Rosario born striker will strive to add the title to the Copa America secured by Argentina in 2021 after the heartbreak of losing the 2014 final to Germany.

Lionel Scaloni’s men are pitted in Group C and will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland and are set to be cheered on by a substantial number of ‘hinchas’ with Argentina one of the nations with the largest amount of travelling supporters set to descend on the small gulf nation in November.