Messi's legacy will not be harmed if he fails to win World Cup, says Guedioura

By Sports Desk December 08, 2022

Lionel Messi does not need to win a World Cup to cement his legacy, Adlene Guedioura told Stats Perform.

Seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has landed eight league titles and four Champions League trophies during a glittering club career.

But international success with Argentina has largely eluded Messi, though he did lift the Copa America last year having finished a runner-up three times previously.

Messi came close to winning the World Cup in 2014, but La Albiceleste suffered final heartbreak as Mario Gotze scored an extra-time winner.

The 35-year-old's failure to bring home international football's top prize has been cited by some as harming his legacy in comparison to the likes of Pele and compatriot Diego Maradona.

The ongoing tournament in Qatar could represent Messi's final chance to win the World Cup, with his Argentina side set to face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Guedioura believes even if Argentina fail in their quest to win a third World Cup in Qatar, Messi's legacy will not be tainted.

Asked if he feels the potential gap in Messi's trophy cabinet will impact how he is remembered, the former Algeria midfielder told Stats Perform: "Not at all. We've enjoyed him for such a long time with [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

"I think, of course, a title with Argentina will put him on the top of everything. But watching him in Barcelona and with Paris Saint-Germain is something special."

Argentina came into the tournament on a run of 36 matches unbeaten, but that streak came to a stunning end when they were beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener.

La Albiceleste have steadied the ship, though, finishing top of Group C and beating Australia in the round of 16 to set up the meeting with the Netherlands.

Despite Argentina's improvement, Guedioura highlighted rivals Brazil as the team more likely to take the trophy back to South America, explaining: "Argentina started poorly with Saudi Arabia.

"Maybe, it was a little accident or a little warning for them. But compared to Brazil, I feel Brazil they are stronger than Argentina."

Guedioura played for Algeria at the 2010 World Cup, and though his nation failed to qualify this year, fellow African sides Senegal and Morocco made it to the knockout stages, with the latter set to face Portugal in the last eight.

The Al-Duhail midfielder thinks African nations pull together at tournaments in a way that is not replicated across other regions of the world. "This is maybe a difference when you have England or Scotland," he observed.

"When Scotland is not qualified, it's like they don't want England to do well. For us, I don't think it's like this. Any team that does well, all of Africa support them because they are the hope for the country and for the continent really."

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    Scaloni named a 29-man provisional squad last month, as Argentina aim to retain their title, with Lionel Messi leading the team once more.

    Correa, who has 25 caps for La Albiceleste and scored three goals, came on as a substitute in their first friendly against Ecuador but remained on the bench when they faced Guatemala on Friday.

    Marseille defender Balerdi has not featured for his national side since 2019, while Barco only has one international appearance to his name.

    19-year-old Valentin Carboni, who was handed his first start in the 4-1 win over Guatemala, gets the nod in the squad after being receiving high praise from Messi following the game for his performance.

    Enzo Fernandez missed the end of Chelsea's Premier League campaign after groin surgery but featured in both warm-up matches to retain his place.

    Argentina will kick off their Copa America title defence in Group A against Canada on June 20.

    Final Argentina squad: Franco Armani (River Plate), Geronimo Rulli (Ajax), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Gonzalo Montiel (Nottingham Forest), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Lucas M. Quarta (Fiorentina), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Nicolas Tagliafico (Lyon), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (Roma), Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Valentin Carboni (Monza), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).

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    Messi scored twice to take his international total to 108 goals as La Albiceleste concluded their Copa America preparations with a comfortable display in Maryland.

    Argentina came from behind to secure the triumph after Lisandro Martinez's own-goal gave Guatemala their first-ever goal against their opponents inside the opening five minutes.

    "It cost us the first few minutes, Messi began. "We faced a team that was well positioned at the back. It was an opponent that was difficult to get into, but we were able to find a way around," Messi began.

    "It is going to be more and more difficult for us; nothing is going to be easy for us. But we're going to try again."

    Argentina took the lead before half-time as Carboni was fouled inside the area by Nicolas Samayoa, with Lautaro Martinez stepping up to score his first of the evening. 

    Carboni has impressed in Serie A with Monza this season, scoring two goals and providing four assists, resulting in his first senior call-up from Lionel Scaloni in March. 

    The 19-year-old started his first game for Argentina in the win over Guatemala, and Messi believes he has a bright future on the international stage.

    "He has a present and a great future; we have to take advantage of it," said Messi. "I had already seen him in the U-20 team, but now he has changed, he has improved a lot.

    "The kid is very good, more educated and with a great quality. There are also others who are good and deserve to be seen."

    La Albiceleste start their Copa America campaign on June 21 against Canada in Atlanta, hoping to secure a record 16th triumph at the competition. 

    "We are going to give our best," Messi started."We continue to want to continue trying to win more things.

    "It's not easy, the games are hard, locked, but we will seek to achieve more and more," Messi said.

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    Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez scored twice for Argentina as they concluded their Copa America preparations with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Guatemala. 

    Argentina found themselves behind inside four minutes when Lisandro Martinez's own goal handed Guatemala their first-ever goal against La Albiceleste.

    However, Messi, who was featuring for the 182nd time for his country, levelled the contest eight minutes later as goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen's poor clearance fell kindly into his path.

    Lionel Scaloni's team were awarded a penalty just before half-time as Nicolas Samayoa fouled Valentin Carboni, with Martinez stepping from 12 yards to score. 

    Messi and Martinez combined for Argentina's third goal, with the latter doubling his tally after he was picked out by his team-mate in the area.

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    Data Debrief: Messi and Martinez make light work of minnows

    Guatemala were simply no match for their illustrious opponents at FedEx Field, managing only four attempts and getting none of those on target, mustering 0.18 expected goals.

    Argentina finished with 3.07 xG, with Martinez (1.47) and Messi (1.3) responsible for the majority of that figure. Between them, they had 13 shots, nine more than Guatemala managed as a team.

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