Lionel Messi says Brazil, France and England are the biggest threats to his dream of finally securing a World Cup winners’ medal with Argentina.
The 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker will once again back Argentina’s hopes in Qatar as they bid to deliver the South American country’s third world title but first since 1986.
“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 the others, I think Brazil, France and England are a bit above the others. But the World Cup is so difficult and so complicated that anything can happen.”
Messi reached the final with Argentina in 2014 but suffered an extra-time loss to Germany.
Copa America champions Argentina are unbeaten in 35 games and if this is Messi’s last World Cup they are in form to win the title.
“We are very excited. We have a very nice group who are very impatient, but we think we will take it little by little,” he said.
“We hope to start the World Cup in the best way to face everything that comes next. The more you play and the more time you spend on the pitch, the more you get to know each other.”
Argentina’s first match in Group C is against Saudi Arabia before facing Mexico and Poland.
Haaland: England among the favorites | “I would like to play! »
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland is keen on a chance to play in the Qatar World Cup but with Norway failing to qualify for the tournament, the 22-year-old will use the break to recharge his batteries to the rest of the Premier League season.
Haaland cemented his reputation as one of Europe’s finest strikers after moving to City from Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, scoring 18 goals in 13 league appearances and five goals in four Champions League appearances.
But with Norway only finishing third in Group G of the European World Cup qualifiers behind the Netherlands and Turkey, Haaland will have to wait to add to his international tally of 21 goals.
“I would have liked to play in the World Cup of course, but that’s the reality now [that] I do not do [that]but I’m going to relax my body and mind a lot and then I’ll train,” Haaland said.
“What am I going to train on? Nothing special I think, my first few months at City went pretty well so I don’t need to make so many changes to be honest.
“It’s about getting ready for the next half of the season and being ready when the next game starts after the break.”
Norway last qualified for the World Cup in 1998.
“The biggest thing we can do is go to a World Cup or Euros,” Haaland said. “That’s of course my goal with the national team. We know it’s difficult, but I hope one day I can play there in the future.”
Haaland said Brazil, Argentina, France and England are favorites in Qatar, where the World Cup kicks off on November 20.
“I can’t say just one because there are so many good teams, so yes, those four,” he added.
What is Man City doing during the World Cup?
Manchester City are yet to finalize their plans, but Pep Guardiola has revealed that first-team members not traveling to Qatar will take a break once the World Cup begins.
In early December, the team is due to travel to Abu Dhabi for a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, where club owner Sheikh Mansour is deputy prime minister.
“We’ll try maybe in two, three weeks for these guys in winter in Manchester,” Guardiola said earlier this month. “Take a break, for the staff to go there. Good weather, our owners are there. We will do that.
“I would say just after or a few days after we come back from 10 days off. After Brentford one or two days off, after we come back we travel. Not confirmed but we’ll try.”
Guardiola also said he expects Haaland to enjoy some time out in Spain after missing out on the World Cup with Norway.
“I’m pretty sure he will love being at the World Cup and maybe the next one or the Euros,” Guardiola said of his striker. “But he has a house in Marbella – go there, play golf, hopefully don’t drink a lot, eat a lot and get back in shape.”
Which players are going to the World Cup? Sixteen players: Manuel Akanji (Switzerland), Ederson (Brazil), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium), Ilkay Gundogan (Germany), John Stones, Kyle Walker, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish (all England), Joao Cancelo , Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva (all from Portugal), Nathan Ake (Netherlands), Aymeric Laporte and Rodri (both from Spain), Julian Alvarez (Argentina).