According to a report by TyC Sport journalist Gaston Edul, Lionel Messi is set to make his return to the Argentina national team in the coming FIFA international break in March.
Messi was rested for the previous international break in late January after a bout with COVID-19, as Argentina had already secured qualification to the 2022 World Cup. Without Messi, Argentina picked up a pair of one-goal victories over Chile and Colombia thanks to excellent performances from Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez.
In the final pair of South American World Cup qualifying matches, Argentina will take on Venezuela and Ecuador in late March. Argentina sits second in the table, four points behind Brazil but with a massive 10-point lead over third-placed Ecuador that secured World Cup qualification months ago.
Recuperación y definición excelente.
Messi va a jugar con la Selección Argentina en marzo.
— Gastón Edul (@gastonedul) February 6, 2022
The matches could potentially represent Messi’s final World Cup qualifiers in an Argentina shirt if he opts to step away from the game at any point between the end of the 2022 World Cup and the start of 2026 World Cup qualifying. Argentina’s all-time leading scorer, who will be turning 39 in the summer of the 2026 World Cup, has offered no hints about when he might decide to hang up his boots.
Argentina’s road to 2022 World Cup
Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni will use the March matches as one of the final opportunities to fine-tune his squad before this winter’s FIFA World Cup. He favored resting Messi last time around, but brought in nearly every other expected Argentina starter for the coming Big Dance.
Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez were included and performed well in January, and Giovani Lo Celso was a standout performer as well, despite his struggles at former club Tottenham which resulted in a winter move to Spain. Nicolas Otamendi and Lisandro Martinez were a formidable duo at the back, and Nicolas Tagliafico is in great form for both the national team and his club Ajax.
The break also seemed to reinvigorate the 34-year-old Messi, who ended his six-match Ligue 1 scoring drought with a goal and assist against Lille over the weekend. He was a central figure in the match, second among all players with 90 touches, behind just Marco Verratti.
With Messi now coming aboard, Scaloni will be able to get the team to a full sprint going into the World Cup. Argentina sits at +1000 to win the World Cup on DraftKings, the sixth-best odds in the field. All five teams ahead of them — Brazil, France, England, Germany, and Spain — have also secured World Cup spots.
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