Argentina icon Lionel Messi believes England are among the nations who stand can between him and World Cup glory in Qatar.
The 35-year-old heads to the Middle East for what could be one last attempt to finish his legendary career with football’s most coveted prize.
Argentina have not won the World Cup since 1986, during the days of Diego Maradona, and glory for Messi would help secure his legacy as the greatest player of all time in the eyes of many.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar leads a nation who are the reigning champions of South America and unbeaten in 35 matches, putting them firmly among the favourites. But Messi insists Gareth Southgate’s England, along with Brazil and France, are “a little bit above the rest”.
“Whenever we talk about candidates, we always talk about the same teams,” Messi told South American Federation CONMEBOL.
“If I have to put some above others I think Brazil, France and England are a little bit above the rest. But the World Cup is so difficult and so complicated that anything can happen.”
If Argentina and England both top their respective groups, they would not meet until the final. The showpiece event in Doha could be Messi’s 1000th game and there is a sense of fate surrounding the diminutive Argentine this winter.
Argentina begin their campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22 before group matches against Mexico and Poland.
Messi added, “We are very excited. We have a very nice group that is very eager, but we think about going little by little. We hope to start the World Cup in the best way to face everything that comes after. The more you play and the more time you spend on the pitch, the more you get to know each other.”
- A TalkSport report