Messi's legacy will not be harmed if he fails to win World Cup, says Guedioura

By Sports Desk December 08, 2022

Lionel Messi does not need to win a World Cup to cement his legacy, Adlene Guedioura told Stats Perform.

Seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has landed eight league titles and four Champions League trophies during a glittering club career.

But international success with Argentina has largely eluded Messi, though he did lift the Copa America last year having finished a runner-up three times previously.

Messi came close to winning the World Cup in 2014, but La Albiceleste suffered final heartbreak as Mario Gotze scored an extra-time winner.

The 35-year-old's failure to bring home international football's top prize has been cited by some as harming his legacy in comparison to the likes of Pele and compatriot Diego Maradona.

The ongoing tournament in Qatar could represent Messi's final chance to win the World Cup, with his Argentina side set to face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Guedioura believes even if Argentina fail in their quest to win a third World Cup in Qatar, Messi's legacy will not be tainted.

Asked if he feels the potential gap in Messi's trophy cabinet will impact how he is remembered, the former Algeria midfielder told Stats Perform: "Not at all. We've enjoyed him for such a long time with [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

"I think, of course, a title with Argentina will put him on the top of everything. But watching him in Barcelona and with Paris Saint-Germain is something special."

Argentina came into the tournament on a run of 36 matches unbeaten, but that streak came to a stunning end when they were beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener.

La Albiceleste have steadied the ship, though, finishing top of Group C and beating Australia in the round of 16 to set up the meeting with the Netherlands.

Despite Argentina's improvement, Guedioura highlighted rivals Brazil as the team more likely to take the trophy back to South America, explaining: "Argentina started poorly with Saudi Arabia.

"Maybe, it was a little accident or a little warning for them. But compared to Brazil, I feel Brazil they are stronger than Argentina."

Guedioura played for Algeria at the 2010 World Cup, and though his nation failed to qualify this year, fellow African sides Senegal and Morocco made it to the knockout stages, with the latter set to face Portugal in the last eight.

The Al-Duhail midfielder thinks African nations pull together at tournaments in a way that is not replicated across other regions of the world. "This is maybe a difference when you have England or Scotland," he observed.

"When Scotland is not qualified, it's like they don't want England to do well. For us, I don't think it's like this. Any team that does well, all of Africa support them because they are the hope for the country and for the continent really."

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    Milan boss Stefano Pioli defended his decision to start with Rafael Leao on the bench after his struggling team went down 1-0 to Inter in Sunday's derby.

    Last season's champions sit sixth in Serie A after 21 games, in danger of failing to qualify for next season's Champions League unless they buck up their ideas.

    They have lost four games in a row, with losses to Inter in the Supercoppa and Serie A sandwiching a 4-0 drubbing by Lazio and a 5-2 mauling at home by Sassuolo.

    It was league duty on Sunday, and Leao was only a substitute, despite being a two-goal hero in September when Milan took the derby spoils 3-2 to keep pace with early bolters Napoli.

    While Napoli have kept up their early frantic pace, and now sit 13 points clear of second-placed Inter, Milan have lost all momentum.

    Pioli began against Inter with former Liverpool fringe man Divock Origi alongside Olivier Giroud in attack, abandoning the partnership early in the second half when the ineffective Origi was hauled off and Leao made his entrance.

    The skilful Portuguese forward almost teed up an equaliser for Giroud, but the French striker's control was awful and the chance was lost, but that moment of fast-paced dribbling excellence highlighted Leao's threat.

    "He has enormous potential," said Pioli, "but I chose to play with two centre-forwards who are closer vertically to put Inter's defence in difficulty, even if we didn't succeed.

    "I trust a lot in Leao, even if he didn't start from the beginning. The choices I made are the best for what I saw during the week, for what the preparation for the match was and for the positions I wanted to fill."

    With the benefit of hindsight, Pioli said he would "do it again" when asked about Leao's omission.

    In all, Milan have not won for seven games, and they face Torino on Friday before a Champions League tussle with Tottenham the following Tuesday.

    Tottenham's former Inter boss Antonio Conte may be licking his lips at that prospect, with Milan's defending leaving plenty to be desired in recent weeks.

    Lautaro Martinez headed in Hakan Calhanoglu's corner for the only goal of the derby, and Pioli accepted his players were found lacking.

    "Unfortunately we found ourselves unprepared once again on a dead ball," he said. "Up to that moment, we were working well as a team. We did better in the second half."

    Pioli knows the drastic slide in form has left many Milan supporters agog, and he said: "The fans have every right to criticise, the last few performances haven't been up to par."

    Yet Pioli still has the support of the dressing room, according to midfielder Rade Krunic.

    Krunic told DAZN: "If you lose such an important match there are few positive things. The only thing to take away is the reaction in the second half, where we did better than in the first half.

    "We seemed to be doing better in training than today. We believe in Pioli."

  • 'It was a day to dare' – Xavi delighted after Barca patiently dismantle Sevilla 'It was a day to dare' – Xavi delighted after Barca patiently dismantle Sevilla

    Xavi praised his Barcelona players for remaining patient in their 3-0 victory over Sevilla as the LaLiga leaders moved eight points clear of Real Madrid.

    Barca dominated Sunday's contest at Camp Nou before eventually finding the breakthrough via full-back Jordi Alba in the 58th minute.

    Gavi added a second 12 minutes later and Raphinha, who assisted that goal, added his name to the scoresheet as Barca made it 10 wins in a row this year.

    Sevilla focused almost entirely on defending, managing only three shots in total to Barca's 16, and Xavi is delighted his side were able to break down the visitors.

    "This was a day to dare," he told DAZN. "We talked about it at half-time. It's always difficult to attack when the opponent has 11 players behind the ball.

    "But we did it very well and I'm very satisfied with this result."

    Barca took full advantage of Real Madrid's surprise 1-0 loss at Real Mallorca earlier in the day to extend their lead at the summit as they close in on a first title in four seasons.

    "We've gone many games unbeaten and it's important we win like we did today," Xavi said. "Against a low block, we created many chances – that is a big positive.

    "Things are working out for us. We're eight points ahead of Madrid, but there is still a lot of the season left."

    With a goal and an assist against Sevilla, Raphinha has been involved in more goals (eight – four goals and four assists) than any other LaLiga player in all competitions in 2023.

    Xavi hailed the Brazil international's performance and also reserved special praise for Alba, who himself scored and assisted in a single LaLiga game for the fourth time.

    "I was already satisfied with Raphinha's performances," Xavi said. "He is good in high-pressure scenarios and has been giving us decisive assists. He's an extraordinary player.

    "As for Jordi, he gives us a lot in attack and showed that again today. We knew there would be an opportunity to take advantage of some space that was left."

    Alba was recalled to the starting line-up having been made to settle for substitute appearances of late and took full advantage of his opportunity to impress.

    "I take advantage of the minutes when I play; when I don't, I dedicate myself to encouraging the youngsters so they know what it means to play for this club," Alba said.

    "We are having a very good season, playing well, pressing well and getting our rivals to give us chances. 

    "There are eight points on Madrid and, although there is a lot of the league season left, it is a very good distance to have."

    Barca's 53 points after 20 LaLiga matches has only been matched or bettered on five previous occasions, including themselves four times.

    The only blemish for Xavi's side was captain Sergio Busquets limping off early following a challenge with Youssef En-Nesyri.

    Busquets is reported to have sprained his right ankle and is facing two-to-three weeks out, potentially ruling him out of Barca's Europa League tie with Manchester United.

    "Hopefully it's nothing serious," Xavi said. "First we'll do tests and then we'll know more."

  • Inzaghi lauds 'perfect' Inter display in derby win over struggling Milan Inzaghi lauds 'perfect' Inter display in derby win over struggling Milan

    Simone Inzaghi felt Inter were "perfect" as they beat struggling Milan 1-0 in the most dominant derby display he can remember.

    Captain Lautaro Martinez's first-half header inflicted a fourth successive defeat on the Rossoneri at San Siro on Sunday.

    Milan failed to register a shot on target and are down in sixth place in Serie A after their miserable winless run was extended to seven games.

    The Nerazzurri, on the other hand, are second behind runaway leaders Napoli following a third win in a row after also seeing off their city rivals 3-0 in Supercoppa Italiana last month.

    While Napoli look like they could be out of sight with a 13-point advantage at the summit, Inter head coach Inzaghi believes a commanding derby display shows they continue to make strides.

    He said: "I'm very satisfied, I complimented the team because they were perfect, I don't remember a derby won and dominated in this way.

    "We had a great derby, winning two in I think 20 days don't always happen. We don't look forward or backward in the standings, but only at us."

    Under-pressure Milan boss Stefano Pioli went with a more defensive line-up in a bid to arrest the champions' slide, but Inzaghi's focus was on how his side approached the game.

    He added: "There's been talk about it for days [Pioli's tactics]. I have to be honest that I was worried about mine, regardless of how Milan played.

    "Every Sunday we meet three or four [man] defences. Tonight in the first half we bordered on perfection. In the second we did very well and conceded the first shot in the 75th minute. It's a great satisfaction."

    Another big plus for Inzaghi was a substitute appearance for Marcelo Brozovic, the first time he has featured for Inter since November.

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