In the semi-final of FIFA World Cup 2022, Lionel Messi-led Argentina surpassed Croatia 3-0 and cruised into the final. Messi drew first blood in the 34th minute when he scored via penalty. The 1-0 lead was further accentuated by Julian Alvarez who scored in the 39th and 69th minute. With the win, Messi is just one step away from realising his dream of winning the FIFA World Cup, the coveted trophy which has eluded his star-studded career. He is on the threshold of joining Argentina legends Diego Maradona and Mario Kempes.
As Argentina play their sixth final in the history of World Cups, Messi is on the brink of achieving more feathers in his cap. We have enlisted some of the exemplary records that the 35-year-old is on the verge of creating at the marquee tournament.
– If Messi appears in the final on Sunday, he will become the player with most world cup appearances surpassing Lothar Matthaus (25 appearances).
– Italian legend Paolo Maldini has played the most minutes in World Cup history: 2,217. Messi has appeared for 2,194 minutes and is well poised to claim the record in the final.
– Christened ‘La Pulga Atomica’, Messi has won 16 matches for Argentina in World Cups, one less than Germany’s Miroslav Klose(17). If Argentina win the final, Messi will equal Klose’s spectacular feat.
– Messi joined the exlusive club of playing in five World Cup tournaments alongside Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus, Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Cristiano Ronaldo.
– He claimed a record 18th appearance as captain in the World Cup and went past Rafa Marquez (17 appearances) and Diego Maradona (16 appearances)
– With his assist in the semi-final on Wednesday against Croatia, Messi is the only footballer to have registered at aleast an assist in five world cups.
– With 11 goals, he is now the highest goal scorer for Argentina in World Cups. He is followed by Gabriel Batistuta (10), Diego Maradona (8), Guillermo Stabile (8), Mario Kempes (6) and Gonzalo Higuain (5).
Going into the final, the Argentina captain has already announced that he would hang his boots after the title clash for his nation.
“I feel very happy to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final,” Messi told Argentine media outlet Diario Deportivo Ole.
“It’s many years for the next one and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. And to finish like this, it’s the best,” added the Argentina captain.