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19 Oct, 2022 19:43

Messi picks World Cup favorites

The football superstar chose France and Brazil to go far at Qatar 2022
Messi picks World Cup favorites

Defending champions France and record five-time winners Brazil are the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup in December, according to Argentina icon Lionel Messi.

Talking to DIRECTV, Messi noted that Brazil, Germany, France, England, and Spain are always favorites to win international football’s premier tournament.

This year, however, he feels that France and Brazil are the strongest two teams heading into the group phase in late November.

“We always say the same great teams ... but, if I have to choose, Brazil and France are the two great candidates to win the World Cup,” Messi said.

“They've had the same group {of players} for a long time, working well. France, aside from the last Euros when they were eliminated {in the last 16} and did badly, they have some impressive players. They have a clear idea and the same coach {Didier Deschamps}.”

“Brazil are a bit the same {under Tite},” Messi said of his country's arch rivals in South America.

Despite Argentina being unbeaten in 35 matches and beating Brazil in the Copa America final at the Maracana in Rio last year, Messi refrained from listing his own team as one of the frontrunners.

Two-time World Cup winners La Albiceleste have been hit with injuries to key players such as Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Juventus winger Angel Di Maria in recent weeks, but national team coach Lionel Scaloni has urged his men not to hold anything back for their clubs in the run-up to the World Cup.

“We are in quite a difficult stage. The players are playing a lot of games,” Scaloni said from the AFAestudio.

“There can be problems as there are injuries {and} suspensions. It's part of being an elite player and a national team player.”

“I worry, but there is little you can do. I believe that the player has to go out on the pitch to play and not think about what's coming – it can be detrimental. Let them play naturally,” Scaloni said.

Argentina get their Qatar 2022 campaign underway when they face Saudi Arabia in Group C on November 22 ahead of two more scheduled matches against Mexico and Poland.

In Russia four years ago, Messi and his teammates were dumped out of the round of 16 by eventual winners France when they lost a thrilling 4-3 tie in Kazan.