Date with destiny: Is this finally Messi’s time for World Cup glory?


The Argentine icon can win football’s biggest prize this weekend

Lionel Messi has produced his trademark magic in Qatar to lead Argentina to the brink of World Cup success.

Five goals, three assists, and some moments of sheer brilliance from the Argentine captain have illuminated the tournament over the past month.

Aged 35, Messi has said that this will be his World Cup swansong; the meeting with France on Sunday affords one final chance to win the only major silverware that has eluded him during his illustrious career.

Messi is inarguably the best player of his generation in the famous blue and white of La Albiceleste– and arguably of all-time.

He is Argentina’s all-time top goalscorer on 96 strikes, and their record appearance-maker with 171 caps.

On Sunday, Messi is set to become the outright record holder for World Cup appearances, breaking a current tie of 25 matches with German legend Lothar Matthaus.

Despite the numbers and the landmarks, Messi has so often been cast as living in the shadow of the last man to lead Argentina to the World Cup – the late, great Diego Maradona.

This weekend, Messi has a chance to match the feat that Maradona achieved in 1986, and to cap a 17-year international career that has been far from easy.

Indeed, the long road to Sunday’s showpiece at the Lusail Stadium has been a bumpy one – even for a player as preternaturally gifted as Messi.

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