The two great rivals, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, plus Sergio Ramos (if called up by Luis Enrique) could be the only three players at the 2022 World Cup who also took part in the 2006 edition.
Cristiano Ronaldo needs just one more goal to become the only footballer to score at five different World Cups. The Portuguese is currently tied with Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose as the only players to have scored in four finals. Lionel Messi can also equal or break more records at this World Cup.
The Argentine star’s year at PSG has been fantastic. The 35-year-old continues to amaze the football world every time he touches the ball. His start to the season with Paris Saint Germain (PSG) has been magnificent and, as if that wasn’t enough, the Argentina national team are enjoying an unbeatable run of form from their captain. At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he will try to fulfil his dream of being world champion. Plus, he has the chance to break more records in turn.
The 10 World Cup records he can break at Qatar 2022
1 – Argentinian with most World Cups played
Leo holds the Argentinian record for having played in four editions of the tournament. He shares it with two other historic national team players: Diego Maradona and Javier Mascherano. Both will be surpassed by La Pulga in Qatar. The former played at the World Cups in Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, Italy 1990 and USA 1994 and was world champion on Mexican soil. On the other hand, “El Jefecito” shared the team with Messi in Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.
2 – Player with most World Cups played in total
The footballer from Rosario started his World Cup career at the age of 19 at Germany 2006. Since then, he has participated in all subsequent editions: South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018. Qatar will therefore become his fifth World Cup, equalling the record held by Germany’s Lothar Matthäus (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998), Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014) and Mexico’s Rafael Márquez (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) and Antonio Carbajal (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966). However, he will share this record not only with the aforementioned, but also with his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo and, possibly, the Spaniard Sergio Ramos.
3 – The Argentinian with the most matches played at the World Cup
The captain of Argentina’s national team has played 19 matches in this competition and is in third place behind Javier Mascherano (20) and Diego Maradona (21). Therefore, if he plays his three group matches (against Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland), he will be alone at the top of the rankings with 22.
4 – Footballer in the world with most matches played at the World Cup
Lothar Matthaus is the player with the most matches played so far at the World Cup, with 25. Leo has 19 and is six behind him. He might even surpass him if he reaches the semi-finals, as, win or lose in that match, he would play seven matches and reach 26, surpassing the German defender’s all-time record.
5 – Player with most minutes played
The Argentine has played a total of 1624 minutes at the World Cup since his debut at Germany 2006. First place in this category goes to Italy’s Paolo Maldini, who played a total of 2217 minutes between Italy 1990 and South Korea-Japan 2002. To overtake him, the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) striker will have to play 85 minutes per game until the final or, failing that, until the third and fourth place play-off (unless he plays 30 minutes of extra time in one of the knockout matches).
6 – Argentina’s top scorer at the World Cup
Gabriel Batistuta (ranked 8th in the all-time World Cup scorers ranking) managed to score 10 goals in 12 matches and became the top scorer for Argentina’s national team at the World Cup. Therefore, to match him, Messi needs to score four goals, as he has six in 19 matches: one in Germany 2006, four in Brazil 2014 and one more in Russia 2014 (in South Africa 2010 he did not score).
7 – World Cup all-time top scorer
This is the most difficult milestone the Argentine has to beat in Qatar 2022. He has scored six goals in his four appearances and the record is held by Germany’s Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals between South Korea-Japan 2002 and Brazil 2014. To surpass him, Lionel will need to score 11 goals in this edition to overtake him, a milestone reached only by Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis at Switzerland 1954 (11) and France’s Just Fontaine at Sweden 1958 (13). If he scores 10 goals, he will share first place with Klose and equal the record set by Gerd Muller in Brazil 1970.
8 – Most matches as team captain at the World Cup
With 16 matches, Diego Armando Maradona holds the record for being the player to wear the captain’s armband the most times in World Cup history: Mexico 1986 (7 caps), Italy 1990 (7 caps) and USA (2 caps). Leo has played 12: his first game with the strip in South Africa 2010 (against Greece, when Javier Mascherano, the main captain, was replaced), followed by Brazil 2014 (7 caps) and his legacy continued in Russia 2018 (4 caps). If Argentina reach the last 16, Messi will equal Diego’s record, and if they reach the quarter-finals, he will hold the record alone.
9 – Most matches won
The record is held only by Miroslav Klose, with 17 match wins between 2002 and 2014. The former Barcelona player, meanwhile, has 12, so if he manages to win five matches he will equal it, while if he wins in the semi-finals or, failing that, the third and fourth place play-off, he will move to the top of the all-time winners’ standings.
10 – Most World Cup Golden Ball awards
The Golden Ball for the best player at each World Cup began to be awarded in Spain in 1982. Since then, no player has won the award more than once. If Lionel is voted the tournament’s best player, he will become the only player with two such titles. The only other player still in with a chance of winning the award for a second time is Luka Modric, who won it last year. The Argentine received the trophy in Brazil 2014.