PARIS: As the soccer world prepares to move to Qatar in six months’ time, this World Cup is about to bookend the period wherein Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the game’s two pre-eminent gamers.
At the time, it felt just like the 2018 event in Russia marked a turning level as a teenage Kylian Mbappe turned a world celebrity by serving to France grow to be world champions.
Mbappe consoling Messi after starring as France beat Argentina within the last 16 was an iconic picture of that World Cup.
Fast ahead to the current and Mbappe and Messi are team-mates at Paris Saint-Germain.
Still simply 23, the longer term actually belongs to Mbappe, who has eclipsed the Argentine at his membership this season and has PSG, Real Madrid and soccer followers the world over on tenterhooks awaiting an announcement on the place he’ll play subsequent season.
Meanwhile, even when they’re now on the wane, Messi and Ronaldo will go to Qatar hoping to grab certainly their last probability to raise a World Cup, the one obtrusive omission from the CV of every.
These are the gamers who’ve between them gained 12 of the last 13 editions of the Ballon d’Or – Messi gained his seventh last yr.
Both have gained a continental title with their nationwide staff, however neither has fairly lit up a World Cup in the way in which they might have hoped.
This will probably be Messi’s fifth World Cup. He was 18 when he scored on his event debut in 2006. He impressed Argentina to the 2014 last, which they misplaced to Germany.
Yet, extremely, he has by no means scored in a World Cup knockout match. All of his six targets have come within the group stage.
He will probably be 35 by the point Argentina play Saudi Arabia of their opening sport on November 22.
“I am going to have to reassess a lot of things after the World Cup, whether it goes well for us or not,” Messi admitted in March.
“I hope it goes well, but a lot of things are definitely going to change.”
“I WILL DECIDE”
Ronaldo has additionally performed at 4 World Cups and last yr broke the worldwide scoring report held by Iran’s Ali Daei, however he has by no means managed a purpose within the knockout rounds both.
The Portugal captain will probably be almost 38 on the finish of this yr, but he stays in spectacular bodily form and nonetheless scored 24 targets for Manchester United this season.
“I will be the one to decide, nobody else,” he insisted in March when requested if this might be his last World Cup.
Improved diets and advances in sports activities science imply extra gamers now are extending their careers on the very prime properly into their 30s.
Karim Benzema, who turns 35 the day after the ultimate on the Lusail Iconic Stadium, is taking part in the most effective soccer of his profession for Real Madrid, the highest scorer in La Liga now maybe the favorite to succeed Messi as Ballon d’Or winner.
So far, Benzema has performed at only one World Cup in 2014 earlier than being exiled from the nationwide staff for 5 years over his involvement in a sex-tape blackmail affair.
“There is a World Cup coming and I have to try to do something great. We will see after that if I go down in history,” Benzema instructed L’Equipe just lately.
THE NEW WAVE
The greatest participant on the last World Cup, Luka Modric has continued to mesmerise in flashes this season alongside Benzema for Real Madrid.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner will, although, be 37 come Qatar.
A repeat of his heroic bodily efforts 4 years in the past – when he dragged Croatia by further time in three knockout ties en path to the ultimate – is very unlikely.
Robert Lewandowski could be the biggest pure goal-getter in European soccer in recent times, however he has solely performed three World Cup video games for Poland and by no means scored.
Soon to show 34, that is once more his last probability on the event, and the identical may be stated of Uruguayan veterans Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Even Neymar, nonetheless comparatively younger at 30, has stated he won’t function at a World Cup once more, such is the pressure on his physique and thoughts.
“I will play it like it is the last because I don’t know if I will still have the mental strength to put up with even more football,” the Brazilian stated last yr.
Yet Qatar may even see one of many sport’s rising younger stars actually make their mark, like Mbappe 4 years in the past.
Norway’s failure to qualify means no Erling Haaland, however Spain’s Pedri, Dusan Vlahovic of Serbia and Vinicius Junior of Brazil are among the many new technology of superstars. If solely they’ll outshine the outdated boys.
Source : channelnewsasia.com