Lionel Messi is expected to start when Argentina take on Australia in the Round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Saturday (December 3). The two-time world champions topped their group by securing six points and have made it through to the knockout stages.
Argentina picked up a comfortable 2-0 victory over Poland in their final group-stage match to secure a safe passage into the last 16. Messi had a penalty saved during the game but that made no impact on La Albiceleste’s fortunes.
Second-half goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez were enough for Argentina to secure all three points.
Despite his missed spot-kick, Lionel Messi has been excellent in the World Cup and will be expected to carry his good form into the knockout stages. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will therefore start and lead Argentina’s attack against Australia.
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has used a number of forwards as Messi’s partners in attack. The likes of Lautaro Martinez, Julian Alvarez, and Angel Di Maria have all started up front alongside Messi during the group-stage games.
Leo Messi in Final session before Australia match
Lionel Messi has had three goal contributions during the group stages. The former FC Barcelona forward has so far scored two goals and provided an assist in this edition of the FIFA World Cup.
Australia, on the other hand, secured a shock 1-0 win over Denmark in their final group-stage match to qualify for the Round of 16. This will be the Socceroos‘ first appearance in the knockout stages of a FIFA World Cup since 2006.
Whom will Lionel Messi’s Argentina face in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup?
Should Argentina beat Australia in the Round of 16 on Saturday, they would face either the United States or the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Australia, meanwhile, also have the capability to cause a major upset and reach their first-ever World Cup quarterfinal.
Argentina training ahead of their Round of 16 match against Australia
Lionel Messi’s Argentina were knocked out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup by eventual winners France in the Round of 16. It was an entertaining game with France edging out Argentina 4-3.
Argentina will want to go a step further than they did last time around. The 2022 World Cup could very well be Lionel Messi’s final opportunity to win the tournament with his national team. Argentina, meanwhile, have not lifted the World Cup since 1986.
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