The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the last international tournament for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the most talked about players in football history. Both players have the talent to leave with a bang, but who will have the biggest impact on their team in Qatar?
Here’s what football analysts at FOX Sports think:
Does Messi have the team to win the World Cup this year?
Doug McIntyre: Yes. After years of carrying Argentina on their backs and a string of near misses, the Albiceleste reached three consecutive finals (a World Cup, a Copa America and the Copa America Centenario) between 2014-16, only to lose them all). But something changed last year when Messi won his first title with Argentina. He now has a supporting cast around him – Emiliano Martínez, fellow striker Julián Álvarez, midfielders Rodrigo De Paul and Giovani Lo Celso and young defender Nahuel Molina – who seem unencumbered by this history of failure. This is Messi’s last chance to claim the big win. But it could also be his best.
Martin Rogers: For once, that’s the wrong question. It used to be about whether he had enough support for his brilliance — and the answer was always no. The question now is whether Messi personally has enough left over to add that certain something to a well-established Argentina squad.
Landon Donovan: no
Carli Lloyd: With newly appointed manager Lionel Scaloni, he has built a system that values and enhances the quality of each player while ensuring mutual success. He has a mix of experienced players and new promising young talents. They seem to have their sense of identity now and it will require Messi to be at his best as this will most likely be his last World Cup.
[World Cup 2022 Group C Team Guides: Argentina]
Ali Wagner: I think he has the team to go the distance. I think what we saw at the Copa America was the value of team chemistry and those intangibles that make the difference. This time the pressure isn’t just on him to score; it feels like the roster is more balanced than ever; It feels like other players are willing not to take responsibility and not just pass it on to Messi. I think their defense is more solid with Cristian Romero, I think they have a goalkeeper capable of big saves, I think they have balance in midfield. I think they can absolutely lift the trophy and I think the pressure to win the Copa America is kind of off them. They can just play a little more freely and that’s when they’re at their best.
Stu Holden: Absolutely.
Chad Ochocinco: Messi has the team to win the World Cup. You just can’t burden him with everything.
KellySmith: Yes, but rather because Scaloni’s system is excellently designed to get a lot from Messi without asking everything of him. This could be your tournament.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi: No. 2
Renowned for his finishing, passing and technical skills, Messi is ranked second in Stu Holden’s top 50 players at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Moritz Ed: Yes he does. We saw how he led this group to Copa America success and how they were so united and motivated. I think this team is more balanced than previous Argentinian teams and it showed on the way to Copa America success. If they needed more motivation, Messi said this will be his last World Cup assuming that’s the case.
Cobi Jones: Yes he does. He is surrounded by talent that can score, defend and create. It will allow him to do special things. To create magical moments.
Eniola Aluko: Yes! Argentina have a brilliant squad with many top players in form for their clubs including Messi. Argentina are unbeaten in 35 games and it will take a lot to beat them. This could be the year that Argentina becomes world champions.
Warren Barton: Yes. You have something of an X factor. Ever since they won the Copa America he’s had this big question mark off his back that should never have been there because he’s arguably the best player we’ve ever seen – he’s a gift from God. From this point of view, this would only cement him as such. I think he’s got every aspect – he’s got that backline now. They’ve always been so top-heavy up front, but I think they’ve found a good balance now with the players they have.
[Messi and Ronaldo’s last dance is a battle over legacy]
Can Portugal still count on Cristiano Ronaldo?
McIntyre: Yes. As much as Ronaldo struggled during a dramatic season with Manchester United, he is still a starter, the captain and the focal point of a Portuguese attack that has been built around him for almost 20 years and knows exactly how to get him the ball , Ronaldo can still score with the right service and playing in front of a global crowd last time out could well bring the best out of him.
Rogers: Ronaldo isn’t in the best of moods these days, just ask Manchester United. But he has sometimes used club-level drama as fuel to shine for the national team. I think he will have a big tournament.
Donovan: Something, but not in the way they could in the past. Don’t be surprised if they don’t get out of the group.
Lloyd: Ronaldo will still be scoring goals but the unknown will be how well he can convert his chances given limited consistent minutes for Manchester United this season. Portugal are still good without Ronaldo on the field. When Ronaldo plays and takes advantage of his chances to score, he can certainly add value.
Wagner: You can count on his gates; You can’t count on him for 90-minute performances. I think he needs to be a role player more than ever at this World Cup and we saw that maybe that’s not the best place for him. Perhaps he learned his lesson at Man United. If he chooses to lead the line every game or every four days I think they can count on his performance, I just don’t think they can count on him to get them where they ultimately are do not want to go it alone. But I think he has the squad around to be a dangerous proposition.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo: No. 4
Renowned for his degree, technical prowess and flying ability, Ronaldo is ranked #4 in Stu Holden’s top 50 players at the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022.
Chad Ochocinco: You can always count on Ronaldo. I expect CR7 to do what he always does and take his team far.
Blacksmith: When his season at Manchester United is long over, it’s hard to say for sure. Ronaldo will still be a threat but is he able to keep up the required work pace for 90 minutes? However, he has a track record for Portugal when it counts.
Ed: Yes he does. We saw how he led this group to Copa America success and how they were so united and motivated. I think this team is more balanced than previous Argentinian teams and it showed on the way to Copa America success. If they needed more motivation, Messi said this will be his last World Cup assuming that’s the case.
Jones: Yes, to be a star. Don’t do everything. I assume CR has something to prove and may pose a problem for all his opponents.
Eniola Aluko: Yes, Cristiano can still score goals and will want to show the world that he remains the best at Manchester United despite his struggles. It will be interesting to see if he starts or comes on, but I doubt Ronaldo will accept anything less than being the center of the team for Portugal.
Barton: You can, but I’m not sure if it will happen this time. I think a lot of things happen in his life and the group they are in is not an easy group.
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