Argentina captain and all-time great Lionel Messi spoke at length about Argentina’s chances at the World Cup, the teams that he sees as favourites, change of environment after his shift to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in 2021 in an interview to CONMEBOL, South American football federation.

Messi is leading an upbeat Argentine side which recently won a record-equalling (with Uruguay) 15th Copa America title in 2021 by beating neighbours and arch-nemesis Brazil in the final. “The more you play and the more time you spend on the pitch, the more you get to know about each other,” said Messi speaking about the advantages of having an established side with a strong recent record. “We know each other’s characteristics and what is best for each moment,” he further added.

However, Messi is also cautious and wants to take one thing at a time. “We have a very nice group that is very eager, but we think about going little by little. We know that the World Cup groups are not easy,” said Messi, showing pragmatism and an understanding of reality. Argentina will play their first match of the tournament against Saudi Arabia on November 22.

Argentina, two-time World Champions (1978 and 1986), are looking forward to a third title that has remained elusive for 36 years. They reached the finals in 1990, immediately after winning the title in 1986 while recently they also reached the finals in 2014. Notably, they were led by Lionel Messi even then and lost a very close encounter to Germany 0-1. Having been Argentina’s all-time highest goal-scorer and also having won the Ballon d’ Or a record 7 times, a World Cup victory is the only thing that separates Messi and lasting greatness.

However, Messi doesn’t see Argentina as one of the favourites. “Whenever we talk about candidates, we always talk about the teams. If I have to put some above others, I think Brazil, France and England are a little above the rest,” said Messi adding that, “But the World Cup is so difficult and so competitive that anything can happen.”

Messi, aged 35 is nearing the end of his illustrious career and the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qatar would surely be his last.