Messi and Lewandowski face each other for a place in the round of 16 of the Cup

Messi and Lewandowski face each other for a place in the round of 16 of the Cup

When Lionel Messi was voted the best in the world for the seventh time, in 2019, Robert Lewandowski posted a sticker on Twitter. It was a thoughtful face of someone who questioned the justice of the choice.

This Tuesday (29), in Doha, the coach of the Argentine national team, Lionel Scaloni, was asked if he considers that Lewandowski is at Messi’s level.

“This is a treacherous question. We are going to enjoy the football of the two. They are two exceptional players”, he summed up.

Those who agree with him will have the chance to do so this Wednesday (30). Argentina and Poland face each other at 4 pm (Brasília time), at the 974 stadium, in Doha, for the last round of Group C. And it is quite possible that the result will eliminate one of the two teams.

With four points, the Poles lead. Argentines have three. In the other match of the bracket, Saudi Arabia (three points) faces Mexico (one).

If it is to stay in the award for the best on the planet, the owners of three of the last four trophies will be on the field. After Messi’s victory in 2019, Lewandowski won in 2020 and 2021. But the World Cup is their golden dream. Both should say goodbye to the tournament this year.

At the age of 35, Lionel has already announced that he will not be present in 2026. His rival, aged 34, has not yet announced his decision. Both are trying to find redemption on the biggest football stage on the planet.

In Russia, in 2018, Lewandowski left the Cup without scoring a single goal. His team fell in the group stage. Messi went to the round of 16 with Argentina, but appearing to be disinterested and in a squad that was falling apart under the command of Jorge Sampaoli, he was eliminated in the round of 16 against France.

The last time Poland reached a World Cup knockout stage was also the last time Argentina emerged champions: in 1986. While Maradona worked his magic to take the country to the title, an aging generation of the European team was thrashed by Brazil 4-0 in the Round of 16.

Despite being one of the most anticipated individual clashes of the tournament in Qatar so far, the duel between the two attackers does not please everyone.

“It’s a game between Poland and Argentina, not between Lewandowski and Messi. This is not tennis, where they will play against each other and everyone will wait to see who serves an ace or makes a nice lobby. Robert needs his teammates and Messi too,” said Polish coach Czeslaw Michniewicz.

The two come from good moments in the last round and were decisive in the victories of their teams. Lewandowski scored his first goal in World Cups in the 2-0 against Saudi Arabia. After the opening draw against Mexico, there were three essential points. But not as many as those obtained by Argentina with the overwhelming help of Messi.

The number 10 scored a great goal to open the way for the 2-0 victory over the Mexicans. In the debut, the South Americans had been defeated by the Saudis.

There is a possibility of both qualifying, but that would depend on the result of the clash between Saudi Arabia and Mexico and the goal difference, the first tiebreaker.

The goals of the two stars are different. If he takes Poland to the round of 16, Lewandowski will be able to claim victory. It would take his team to a level it hasn’t reached in 36 years. Messi, no. The glory would be to reach the title. This explains, in part, his excitement when he scored the goal in the last match. He went so far as to say that they were “dead” with the partial draw.

“We don’t have to carry any pressure and be calm. Things will come because we’re doing everything very well. It’s beautiful to have that responsibility”, said defender Lisandro Martínez, about the pressure of being in the World Cup for Argentina and debuting with defeat.

Anyone who considers that the alviceleste, despite the excitement for the victory, can still be eliminated, can see that this Wednesday’s match has the chance of being Lionel Messi’s last in World Cups. It would be the end of an era in football for the striker who came close to winning the title in 2014, when he was runner-up, and went through difficult times, such as leaving the 2010 tournament, already in the condition of the best on the planet, without having scored a single goal.

“I always said it was a difficult and complicated group. Nothing has changed. We knew this could happen [chegar à última rodada precisando de resultado]🇧🇷 There’s always something to play for,” said Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni.

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