Lionel Messi expects England, France and Brazil to be Argentina’s main rivals at 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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Lionel Messi believes Brazil, France and England will be Argentina’s main rivals at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Two-time champions Argentina are bidding to win the tournament for the first time since 1986.

They enter the World Cup in excellent form as they are unbeaten in 35 matches stretching back to the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America.

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This will likely be the last chance for Messi, 35, to win the World Cup.

“Whenever we talk about candidates, we always talk about the same teams,” Messi told South American Federation CONMEBOL.

“If I have to put some above others I think Brazil, France and England are a little bit above the rest. But the World Cup is so difficult and so complicated that anything can happen.”

The closest Messi has come to winning the World Cup was in 2014 when Argentina were beaten in the final by Germany.

Argentina made the quarter-finals in 2006 and 2010, while last time out in 2018 they were knocked out at the last-16 stage.

They are fancied to finish top of a group containing Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.

“We are very excited. We have a very nice group that is very eager, but we think about going little by little,” added Messi.

“We hope to start the World Cup in the best way to face everything that comes after. The more you play and the more time you spend on the pitch, the more you get to know each other.”

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni says Messi is relishing the build-up to the World Cup.

“I see him as always…eager to enjoy the World Cup,” said Scaloni.

“He knows how to play wearing this jersey. He’s enjoying his team mates, training sessions, the stay and the whole process.”

Argentina’s opening Group C match is against Saudi Arabia on November 22.

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has also picked his favourites for the tournament.

Haaland will not be in Qatar as Norway did not qualify for the tournament.

“I think the favourites should be Brazil, Argentina, France and maybe England,” said Haaland.

“I cannot only say one, because there are so many good teams, so yeah, these four.”

The World Cup starts on November 20 as hosts Qatar face Ecuador.

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