Germany's new DFB director Rudi Voller has claimed that Argentina are not a better team than Die Mannschaft apart from Lionel Messi. The Germans crashed out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the group stage, while La Abiceleste lifted the trophy.
Hansi Flick's side's early exit from the international tournament in Qatar shocked many, as they have won the competition on four occasions. However, Germany came unstuck in a tricky Group E comprising Spain, Japan and Costa Rica.
Despite Germany's failure at the World Cup, Voller reckons the Europeans are as good as winners Argentina. However, he did point out that Messi was an anomaly, saying (via Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger):
"Apart from Messi, who is, of course, outstanding, nobody can tell me that Argentina are better than us. But they defended with incredible passion. They defended in an impressive way, and that's what made them world champions."
Germany started their FIFA World Cup campaign in a demoralising fashion, suffering a shock 2-1 defeat to Japan. They followed that up with a drab goalless draw with Spain.
Flick's men did beat Costa Rica 4-2 in their final group game. However, there was heartbreak for Die Mannschaft, as Japan managed a memorable 2-1 win over Spain to pip them to a place in the last 16.
Die Mannschaft have been undergoing a rebuild under Flick that has seen a new generation being bedded in. The likes of Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz and Niclas Fullkrug have emerged as prominent first-team regulars.
Meanwhile, Argentina also got off to a rocky start in Group B. They were shocked in one of the most remarkable results in competition history, with Saudi Arabia beating them 2-1 in their opener. However, they won every game following that setback as they made their way towards their third FIFA World Cup trophy.
Messi stole the show in Qatar, scoring seven goals and providing three assists in seven games. The legendary forward picked up the Golden Ball for the second time in his career for his exploits in the Middle East.
Argentina players want Lionel Messi to play at next FIFA World Cup
For many, Lionel Messi completed football when he lifted the FIFA World Cup with Argentina in Qatar. At the age of 35, he has now won all there is to win at club and international level. The iconic forward claimed before La Abicelese's triumph in the Middle East that it would be his last appearance in the competition.
It remains to be seen if Lionel Messi sticks with that stance following his memorable campaign last year. His teammates certainly want him to be at the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Alex Mac Allister told the Athletic:
"We don’t want him to leave the national team. He said it was going to be his last World Cup, but we don’t want that. We want him to stay with us. He knows it. So let’s see what happens."
Lionel Messi has earned 172 international caps, scoring 98 goals and providing 55 assists. He won the Copa America in 2021 before lifting the World Cup last year.