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L. Messi

Messi giving Argentina ‘special advantage’ in World Cup bid as Tagliafico hails iconic ‘leader’

5:42 PM GMT+4 12/12/2022
Lionel Messi Argentina Mexico World Cup 2022
The presence of Lionel Messi in their ranks gives Argentina a “special advantage” as they look to chase down World Cup glory, says Nicolas Tagliafico.
  • All-time great has starred at Qatar 2022
  • Netted four goals so far
  • Preparing to face Croatia in semi-finals

WHAT HAPPENED? The Albiceleste have made their way through to the semi-finals at Qatar 2022, with a last-four outing against 2018 finalists Croatia next on the agenda for them. Messi has once again been a talismanic presence for his country as he seeks to land an elusive global crown, with the mercurial 35-year-old netting in four of Argentina’s five games so far.

WHAT THEY SAID: Tagliafico has said of playing alongside the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and the confidence that his inclusion in any starting XI breeds: "For us he is our captain, our leader. He is the one pushing us, motivating us. He is a special advantage on the pitch, we know we have Lionel Messi and it is motivation for us. We are really happy to have Messi as our captain. We are all working together to achieve our dreams and it is more special to have Messi by our side."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi, who has taken in his 1,000th competitive appearance during the 2022 World Cup, has found the target for Argentina against Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Australia and the Netherlands – with the only blank he has drawn so far coming in a group stage encounter with Poland during which he missed a penalty.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Argentina will be in action against Croatia on Tuesday, with Messi – who ended his barren run on the senior international trophy front at the Copa America in 2021 – looking to cement his standing as the greatest player of all time.