Doha, Nov 21 (EFE).- Argentine national soccer team striker Leo Messi said at a press conference that he has come to the 2022 Qatar World Cup “at a big moment personally and physically,” adding that he is confident he will realize his “dream” during this, his “last,” such tourney.
“I feel good physically. I don’t have any problems,” said the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who on the eve of his debut with the “Albiceleste” squad, as the Argentine team is known, against Saudi Arabia wanted to dispel any doubts about his state of health.
He said that he’d suffered a bit of difficulty and “as a precaution” he decided to miss some training sessions, adding however that “that’s not anything strange” and that he will be in perfect shape to take the pitch on Tuesday at Lusail Stadium for Argentina’s first 2022 World Cup match.
Messi said that the current national team reminds him of the 2014 squad, when Argentina got to the final but lost to Germany.
“I don’t know if we’ll do better (than in 2018, when they exited during the Round of 16), but we came from winning (the Copa America) and that decompressed us a lot and gives us great calm. It lets you work in another way, without people are breathing down your neck and expecting results,” he said.
“The group reminds me of the one in 2014. Very similar. A united group that is clear about what they were doing on the pitch and how to go out and do it. That gives you confidence when you go out to play,” he added.
The 35-year-old Messi said that the Qatar World Cup will be “different” from the other four in which he had played during his career because “it’s being held at another point in the season, with less time to prepare.”
“But a World Cup is always special, the atmosphere that you experience before the match,” he said.
Messi said that he had not undertaken any special training for this World Cup and that he had limited himself to getting the maximum amount of playing time with the Paris team.
“I felt more comfortable with more minutes and that is what I tried to do. I didn’t do anything special. I worked as I have my entire career. It’s certainly my last World Cup, my last opportunity to achieve the dream we all have,” he said.
Messi said that Argentina must keep its current streak of good outcomes going and that its recent performance allows the squad to go into the competition with less pressure.
“We’re hoping to continue doing what we’ve been doing for some time with this group, which is growing game by game, which is feeling good … on the playing field,” he emphasized.
Messi didn’t want to comment on whether this is the peak of his career, but he did say that he’s “more mature,” which allows him to “enjoy the present more, every moment to the max.”
“Before, I didn’t think about it, I just enjoyed playing and the matches were so frequent, every three days, that there wasn’t time. Suddenly, the next game would come along and I wanted more, to keep winning. Important things went by without notice. Today, I’m more aware,” he said.
Messi emphasized the state of the team, which features a number of young players who will be competing in their first World Cup and who will have to “manage their anxiety,” although that will last for only “five minutes.”
“We’ll do what we do all along. Play. Go out (to win) the game right from the start, respecting our rival as we do so,” he said.
The star of the Argentine squad has become one of the key personalities of the World Cup, where the Argentina flag is one of the ones most often seen on the streets of Doha.
“It’s something really beautiful for many people who aren’t Argentine to want Argentina to be the champions. It’s in good part because of me. I’m very grateful for the love I’ve received all during my career. This is just one more example of it. It makes me happy that many people want the same thing I do,” Messi said.