Lionel Messi is a man on a mission at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and his Argentina national team are on board for it.
The 35-year-old icon is seeking the crowning achievement of his legendary career by winning the most prestigious trophy in the sport which has eluded him in four previous attempts. He has already confirmed that this will be his last World Cup.
Brazil and France were the two favorites cited by the bookmakers and fans leading into the tournament, but Argentina hoisting the World Cup is a very feasible outcome given the run of results that manager Lionel Scaloni has marshaled: a 36-match unbeaten streak that ended just short of the world record.
Scaloni has tactfully molded this team since taking over in 2018, and his work culminated in the 2021 Copa America triumph on Brazilian soil, clinching Messi his first trophy with the senior national team and finally ridding him of the criticism that constantly followed him on his travels for his country.
Now, after throttling Euro champions Italy during the summer, the Argentina bandwagon is only growing, especially after they made it into the knockout stages in Qatar, though anything can happen in a World Cup!
Argentina World Cup squad 2022
Scaloni named his final 26-man squad on Friday, November 11, three days ahead of the FIFA-imposed deadline.
Scaloni had until Friday, October 21 to submit to FIFA an official preliminary list of 35-55 players, from which he was required to name his final 26-man roster for Qatar by Monday, November 14.
Here’s the final 26-man list. Caps and stats are correct as of the start of Qatar 2022.
|GK||1||Franco Armani||River Plate (ARG)||36||18|
|GK||23||Emiliano Martinez||Aston Villa (ENG)||30||19|
|GK||12||Geronimo Rulli||Villarreal (ESP)||30||4|
|DEF||2||Juan Foyth||Villarreal (ESP)||24||16|
|DEF||25||Lisandro Martinez||Man United (ENG)||24||10|
|DEF||26||Nahuel Molina||Atletico Madrid (ESP)||24||19|
|DEF||4||Gonzalo Montiel||Sevilla (ESP)||25||19|
|DEF||19||Nicolas Otamendi||Benfica (POR)||34||93|
|DEF||6||German Pezzella||Real Betis (ESP)||31||32|
|DEF||13||Cristian Romero||Tottenham (ENG)||24||12|
|DEF||3||Nicolas Tagliafico||Lyon (FRA)||30||42|
|MID||8||Marcos Acuna||Sevilla (ESP)||30||43|
|MID||7||Rodrigo De Paul||Atletico Madrid (ESP)||28||44|
|MID||24||Enzo Fernandez||Benfica (POR)||21||3|
|MID||17||Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez||Sevilla (ESP)||34||15|
|MID||20||Alexis Mac Allister||Brighton (ENG)||23||8|
|MID||14||Exequiel Palacios||Bayer Leverkusen (GER)||24||20|
|MID||5||Leandro Paredes||Juventus (ITA)||28||46|
|MID||18||Guido Rodriguez||Real Betis (ESP)||28||26|
|FWD||9||Julian Alvarez||Man City (ENG)||22||12|
|FWD||16||Thiago Almada||Atlanta United (USA)||21||1|
|FWD||11||Angel Di Maria||Juventus (ITA)||34||124|
|FWD||21||Paulo Dybala||AS Roma (ITA)||28||34|
|FWD||15||Angel Correa||Atletico Madrid||27||22|
|FWD||22||Lautaro Martinez||Inter Milan (ITA)||25||40|
|FWD||10||Lionel Messi||PSG (FRA)||35||165|
Final 26-man Argentina World Cup roster
There had been doubts over Paulo Dybala, Angel Di Maria and Exequiel Palacios because of fitness concerns but the trio made the cut, while Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso is out injured.
Manchester United centre-back Lisandro Martinez was included following a debate over whether the Premier League newcomer would be chosen amid strong defensive competition.
Napoli forward Giovanni Simeone, who’s been on a sensational run of scoring form in the last year, has not joined an attacking list that is led by seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi. However, Angel Correa of Atletico Madrid earned a late call-up due to Nicolas Gonzalez being ruled out.
There had been growing noise from United fans for Alejandro Garnacho to be included. The teenager, who has made previous preliminary squads without winning a senior cap, was recently involved in the United first team and delivered a star cameo off the bench in the 4-2 Carabao Cup win over Aston Villa – but he will have to wait for his chance.
WORLD CUP 2022 SELECTED SQUADS:
Australia | Argentina | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon
Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | England
France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico
Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Senegal
Serbia | Spain | Switzerland | Uruguay | USA | Wales
Argentina injuries ahead of World Cup
Coach Scaloni caused a stir after his teams 5-0 warm-up win over UAE by admitting that there was a chance up to four players could be dropped from the side due to injury and fitness issues.
Paulo Dybala, Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez, Cristian Romero, and Nicolas Gonzalez were either left out of the side for the UAE match or didn’t get off the bench, and Scaloni told reporters that there was a ‘possibility’ that the squad could still change.
“We have a few little problems, and we have a few days to decide the list [of players]. We could change. We hope not, but that possibility exists,” Scaloni said after the UAE match.
“There are a few who today were not in the matchday squad because they weren’t ready to play or there was a risk. I can’t guarantee that these players are ok. Right now they are, but we have to be cautious. That’s why we’ve limited minutes.”
On November 17, Argentina confirmed that Gonzalez would be unable to play a part and would be replaced in the squad by Angel Correa.
Later on the same day, Joaquin Correa was also replaced by Thiago Almada due to injury.
Argentina national team stars, strengths & weaknesses
It’s World Cup final or bust for Argentina, but instead of those expectations weighing heavily on the Albiceleste, they’re actually fueling its biggest star and his supporting cast.
Argentina’s run at the 2021 Copa America was a preview of what we can expect from Scaloni’s crew in Qatar: a compact side that’s difficult to play against, and one that is capable of patiently controlling a game before striking with a flash of brilliance in front of goal from one of its world-class attackers.
Lionel Messi doesn’t have to do it all like he used to in many of the past tournaments for Argentina, when teammates would shuffle the ball to him and hope he could singlehandedly produce the game-breaking play.
These days Messi’s role is more of a facilitator. And in doing so he gets to pick and choose the moments when he feels he can take over a game as opposed to being expected to do it on every attack.
Here’s what we know for sure about Messi in Qatar: His mazy dribbling runs have opened up space for his teammates, his free-kicks continue to cause ‘keepers to shudder on their line, and his passing vision makes opposing defenses look foolish.
And he will continue to tackle and fight for every ball like it’s the last game of his career.
The attacking talent that Argentina can boast has always been one of their calling cards at international tournaments. But this time the Albiceleste have a rugged, balanced and supremely skillful passing midfield that dictates the pace of play.
The likes of Leandro Paredes, and Rodrigo De Paul were often the standouts on their near-record unbeaten run. If they’re humming in a game, then Argentina are likely winning it.
Guido Rodriguez will occasionally fill in for Paredes in the deep-lying position with the talented Enzo Fernandez ready to provide an attacking, creative spark should the team need it off the bench.
This is a team with few weak points provided their first-choice starting 11 is available. The goalkeeper position is the Achilles’ heel, though it hasn’t cost them just yet.
Aston Villa’s Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martinez has built a cult following with his performances as a starter for his country, especially in penalty shootouts, as he transforms in an Argentina kit. But he has had mixed showings for his club team so far and if he’s not on form, their last line of defense is susceptible.
Can Argentina replace players on World Cup roster?
Once the final 26-man roster is official, participating teams at the World Cup could only make changes before the first game of the tournament, and only in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
According to the official tournament rules (page 32), “a player listed on the final list may only be replaced in the event of serious injury or illness up until 24 hours before the start of his team’s first match.”