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Lionel Messi takes center stage as Argentina and France begin bidding for FIFA World Cup| Football news

DOHA: Lionel Messi will start what will surely be his last chance to win the World Cup on Tuesday, with Argentina and holders France both in action in Qatar.
After England beat Iran 6-2 to show their title credentials, day three of one of the most controversial World Cups in history will have four games.
Messi and his Argentina side are first on top as they face Saudi Arabia in Group C, followed by Denmark against Tunisia in Group D.
The evening games will be Robert Lewandowski’s Poland against Mexico in Group C and the last game of the day will be the tee off between reigning champions France, captained by Kylian Mbappé, and Australia in Group D.
However, much of the attention will be on striker Messi.
The 35-year-old has won pretty much everything and is one of the greatest footballers of all time, but World Cup glory has eluded him and this is surely his last time to rectify that glaring omission.
“It’s probably my last World Cup, my last chance to fulfill this big dream that we all have,” Messi told reporters in Doha on Monday.
“I don’t know if this is my happiest moment, but I feel great.
“I’m older, more mature, I want to get the best out of everything, live it with maximum intensity and enjoy every moment I have.”
In recent days, Messi has trained twice in isolation from the rest of the squad, but he moved to allay concerns from the Argentines that he might not be suitable for Saudi Arabia.
“I trained separately because I had a blow. It was precautionary, but nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.
Argentina enter the tournament as Copa America holders and undefeated in 36 games dating back to 2019.
As Messi nears the end of one of football’s greatest careers, his Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Mbappé, is just getting started.
And the 23-year-old could have a field day against an Australian side who lack the stars of yesteryear and need an extra qualifier to reach Qatar.
Like when Argentina face Saudi Arabia, anything other than a victory for holder France would be a huge shock.
Didier Deschamps will miss Paul Pogba and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, both out of the tournament through injury, and the French coach said that puts further strain on Mbappé.
“He has always had the ability to make a difference and we will need that,” said Deschamps.
“He has the ability to be decisive at any time, unlike many other players.”
Mbappe, who turns 24 next month, will lead a French attack in which Olivier Giroud is now expected to start in Benzema’s absence.
Lewandowski is the third of three world-class forwards to appear on Tuesday, but despite all his goals over the years, the 34-year-old has yet to score in a World Cup.
The Barcelona predator has struck 25 times in the last two World Cup qualifying campaigns, but has yet to open his account in the finals.
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny believes Lewandowski will break his duck in Qatar as Poland look to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 1986.
“I think it’s absolutely important for him (to score),” Szczesny told reporters on the eve of Poland’s opening game against Mexico.
“He is very motivated for the World Cup. No one doubts that Robert is one of the best players in the world right now.”

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