It's his last World Cup, Lionel Messi has emphasized that several times. The four previous attempts to imitate the great Diego Maradona did not end well for the six-time world footballer. On Sunday (4:00 p.m. CET/MagentaTV and ARD) he has his next chance in the final against France. It should be better than 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. An overview.
World Cup 2006 in Germany
Messi is included in then-coach José Pekerman's squad as a substitute. In the opening game against the Ivory Coast (2-1), the then 17-year-old was not used. In the 6-0 win over Serbia-Montenegro he came on as a substitute a good quarter of an hour before the end and scored his first World Cup goal. Messi will then play his first World Cup game from the start against the Netherlands (0-0). Pekerman left Messi on the bench in the penalty shootout in the quarterfinals against Germany.
World Cup 2010 in South Africa
It will be the only World Cup without a goal from Messi. The Argentine plays all games from start to finish, but again fails in the quarterfinals against Germany. But this time in regular time and with a crashing 0: 4 - Maradona is overwhelmed as a coach, Messi can't save anything either.
2014 World Cup in Brazil
Messi had never come that close to the world title before. He now leads the team as captain. He scored in the opening game against Bosnia (2-1), followed by three more goals. But all in the group stage. The path to the final leads via Switzerland (1-0 after extra time), Belgium (1-0) and the Netherlands only after a penalty shoot-out. In Rio de Janeiro, the World Cup dream of the DFB selection is abruptly ended. Mario Götze scores in extra time, Messi is only second.
World Cup 2018 in Russia
Messi is kicked out earlier than ever. After a paltry 1-1 draw with Iceland, Argentina lost 3-0 to eventual finalists Croatia. With a 2-1 win against Nigeria, including a Messi goal, the Argentines saved themselves in the knockout stages. Against the eventual world champion France, however, it is already over in the round of 16. Messi appears listless and uninspired under then-coach Jorge Sampaoli.
WM 2022 in Qatar
Messi is playing better than ever at a World Cup. The body language, the determination: Everything is right - except for the start with the 1: 2 against Saudi Arabia. The team nevertheless prevailed as group leaders with victories against Mexico and Poland. This is followed by a Round of 16 win over Australia in Messi's 1000th professional game. For the first time he scores in the knockout round.
Argentina beat the Netherlands on penalties in the quarter-finals, while Messi is too strong for Croatia in the semi-finals. He continues to score and, with eleven World Cup goals to go to the final, overtakes Argentina's record scorer Gabriel Batistuta. And now comes France.