Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi is set to play in Argentina's 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Brazil tomorrow. The 34-year-old has been nursing a knee and hamstring injury recently and missed each of the last two games before the international break for PSG.
Despite being in contention for the last game against Uruguay, Argentina did not risk involving Lionel Messi from the start. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was named on the bench and came on in the 76th minute as Argentina held on to their 1-0 lead and secured maximum points.
Notably, Lionel Messi has yet to feature from the start for club or country since being withdrawn at half-time against Lille in Ligue 1 on October 30. As such, there were concerns over his availability for the crucial game against Brazil. However, Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has confirmed that Messi is set to play.
The tactician confirmed the news during a pre-match press conference. Argentina currently sit second in their FIFA World Cup qualifying group, only behind leaders Brazil. Both teams are also the only unbeaten teams in the group, but only Brazil have already booked their safe passage to the World Cup in Qatar next year.
Lionel Messi leading race for Ballon d'Or after triumph with Argentina in Copa America final against Brazil
The summer of 2021 was quite an eventful one for Lionel Messi. Back in July, the Argentine superstar lifted the Copa America trophy by beating arch-rivals Brazil. The crowning moment for Lionel Messi came in Brazil's own backyard at the Maracana, which made the victory even sweeter.
With his drought for an international trophy with Argentina finally over, Lionel Messi is considered the leading contender to win the Ballon d'Or award in 2021. Should Messi win men's football's most prestigious individual honor again, it would be for a record-extending seventh time.
Considering how Lionel Messi has broken his Argentina jinx in major international tournaments, he will have his eyes set on the World Cup next year. There is a chance that it could be his final appearance in the quadriennal tournament, making it even more important for Argentina to succeed. The hurdles in their path to Qatar are clearly visible now and the next one is against Brazil.
Argentina have notched up 28 points from their 12 games in the 2022 World Cup qualifying so far. A win over group leaders Brazil could cut the gap between the two sides to just three points.