Messi “in a great moment” for the final candidacy for the World Cup
Lionel Messi says he is in a “great moment” as he prepares for what is likely to be his last World Cup.
The 35-year-old is playing in his fifth World Cup for Argentina, whose opening game against Saudi Arabia kicks off at 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has never won the World Cup, coming closest when Argentina lost the 2014 final.
Messi said: “This is probably my last World Cup, my last chance to achieve this big dream that I have.”
The Paris St-Germain forward says he has not done any special physical preparation despite the tournament being played in the middle of the club’s season, and feels fit and ready.
“I feel very well physically, I think I am in a great moment, both personally and physically and I have no problem,” added Messi, who on Saturday did a light training session away from his teammates.
“I heard that I was being told that I was training differently. It was because I got a knock but it’s nothing out of the ordinary [happening]. It was just a precaution.”
Having won countless trophies at club level with Barcelona and PSG, Messi only broke his international trophy duck last year when Argentina lifted the Copa America by beating Brazil in the final.
“It’s a beautiful thing that many people outside Argentina want us to be champions and it’s largely thanks to me,” Messi said.
“I’m grateful for the love I’ve received around the world during my career, and here in Qatar is another example of that.
“I don’t know if we arrived better than at other World Cups, but we just won [the Copa America] and that decompresses us a lot.
“It makes us work in a different way, without worrying about the selection and its results, and enjoying it.”
After facing Saudi Arabia, Argentina will also play Mexico and Poland in Group C.