Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski head into Wednesday’s showdown between Argentina and Poland with the futures of what could be their final World Cup adventures hanging in the balance. Either one of two of the biggest stars of European club football could fail to qualify for the knockout stages in Qatar and end their careers without tasting glory at the most prestigious event of all.
Messi has formerly netted doubly in his last attempt to emulate Diego Maradona and win the World Cup for Argentina and is trying to drag the Albiceleste out of Group C after they were stunned by Saudi Arabia in their opening match.
Argentina beat Mexico 2 0 to regain their crusade and sit second, position on three points with the Saudis and one behind leaders Poland and only a palm will guarantee that 35- time-old Messi’s Qatar crusade continues into December.
An Argentine exit would devastate suckers back home and a worldwide army of Messi suckers hopeless to see him lift the World Cup.
It would also be a befitting climax to the career of one of football’s topmost ever players, but trainer Lionel Scaloni sees similar histrionics as gratuitous.
” It’s hard to make people understand that the sun will rise hereafter, win or lose,” he said after his side beat Mexico to get their challenge back on track.
” What matters is how you do effects.”
Lewandowski was brought to gashes by fulfilling his” nonage dream” of scoring his first ever World Cup thing in what was his fifth match at the tests, a 2- 0 palm over the Saudis.
The Barcelona forward knows he might not get another chance on this stage should the Poles exit the event on Wednesday.
” I am apprehensive it might be my last World Cup and I wanted to be suitable to say that I have played and scored at World Mugs,” said the 34- time-old.
Lewandowski is a safer bet to make the last 16 as Poland will be through with a palm or a draw, and indeed if they lose they’re only sure to be knocked out if the Saudis beat Mexico.
Poland trainer Czeslaw Michniewicz claimed it was not simply a contest between the forwards despite the ineluctable focus on the two big stars.
” It’s not only a match between Lewandowski and Messi, it’s not tennis,” he said.
On Tuesday, the United States reached the knockout phase by beating Iran 1- 0 in a battle of geopolitical foes, earning a alternate round meeting with the Netherlands.
Christian Pulisic’s winner in the 38th nanosecond of an absorbing contest in Doha excluded the Iranians.
The meeting of the bitter ideological rivals had been marked by a bad- tempered buildup, with Iran’s Football Federation demanding on Sunday that FIFA discipline US Soccer for posting a modified interpretation of their country’s flag on social media.
The defeat ended a fraught crusade for Iran, whose every move in Qatar has been scrutinised for signs the players are showing support for massanti-government demurrers that have shaken the Islamic democracy.
” The dream is over,” trainer Carlos Queiroz said.” Unfortunately football always punishes the platoon that does not score.”
The Americans finished two points behind England in Group B after Gareth Southgate’s platoon cruised past Wales 3- 0 in a one- sided’ Battle of Britain’ decided by a Marcus Rashford brace and another strike from Manchester City star Phil Foden.
Rashford said his double, which included a stunning free- kick to open the scoring in the 50th nanosecond at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, was” what I play football for”.
” I’ve massive ambition for this platoon and suppose we can play indeed better than we showed moment,” added Rashford.
England will face Senegal on Sunday after Chelsea protector Kalidou Koulibaly snared a 2- 1 palm over Ecuador to finish second behind the Dutch in Group A and knock out the South Americans.
Koulibaly said he’d give late Senegalese icon pop Bouba Diop’s family his man- of- the- match award after firing the Lions of Teranga into the last 16 for the alternate time in their history.
Cody Gakpo his third thing of the event as the Netherlands reserved their place last 16 as group winners with a straightforward 2- 0 palm over hosts Qatar.
Qatar, which has spent$ 200 billion to host the World Cup, bow out of their own event with the worst ever performance by a host nation– zero points and just one thing scored. Read More FIFA News…