Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni said Lionel Messi will still go with the team to Bolivia to play the second match of the World Cup 2026 qualifying. This is extremely good news for Albiceleste fans because Messi is still the talisman of the Argentine national team according to both W88 bookie and many experts.
Messi has surpassed his former coach Maradona
Lionel Messi surpassed Diego Maradona’s record of most appearances at the World Cup by an Argentina player in last year by scoring. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner had an excellent relationship with the late football God and Messi reckons he would be happy with his latest milestone. Lionel Messi continued to create a magical moment to bring victory to Argentina in the opening match with Ecuador of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in South America. La Pulga
has a series of impressive milestones. But the question is, without Messi, how will Argentina “live”?
After a sparkling start to his Major League Soccer career, Lionel Messi returns to international duty with Argentina this week as South America’s long run to qualify for the 2026 World Cup begins on Thursday. Nine months ago, Messi leaded Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar, cementing his status as the greatest player of his generation.
Since that magical night in Doha, the 36-year-old superstar’s life has gone through a tumultuous period. After ending his bitter career at Paris Saint-Germain, Messi was courted by Saudi Pro League before deciding to create a new chapter in his career with Inter Miami. Inter Miami club head coach – Gerard “Tata” Martino, a former Argentina and Barcelona head coach, said Messi was “liberated” by finally leading Argentina to the World Cup Championsip last year.
But the question as the South American qualifying campaign begins this week is whether Messi will be there when Argentina aim to defend their title in 2026, when the tournament is co-hosted in the United States, Canada and Mexico, or not. Argentina’s World Cup-winning coach Lionel Scaloni certainly did not force the issue.
While questions may continue to surround Messi’s future going forward, there is less uncertainty over Argentina’s prospects of qualifying for the World Cup.
The expanded 48-team finals in 2026 means six of the 10 teams competing in the South American qualifiers, will automatically qualify for the finals. With Argentina’s strength, it will be difficult for them to automatically qualify in 2026.
Messi and Argentina’s qualifying journey begins with a home match against Ecuador at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires on Thursday, before the team takes on Bolivia in La Paz next Tuesday.
Excited Bolivian fans gathered at La Paz international airport to welcome Lionel Messi ahead of Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against the hosts on Tuesday. 36-year-old Messi traveled with the reigning World Cup champions but did not start the match because of fatigue.
Excited Bolivian fans gathered at La Paz international airport to welcome Lionel Messi ahead of Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against the hosts on Wednesday. The 36-year-old Messi traveled with the incumbent World Cup champions but can’t start the match due to fatigue. The ability of Messi left open, Messi’s presence can be decided a few hours before the match starts.
The Hernando Siles Stadium, which is more than 3,000 meters above sea level can be difficult for visiting teams, especially with elderly players. Angel di Maria, a seasoned player, and Julian Alvare might join Scaloni’s starting lineup in place of Nico Gonzalez and Lautaro Martinez, respectively.
If Messi no longer contributes to Argentina, W88 bookie expert of W88.bio estimates that the two current stars, Enzo Fernandez and Julian Alvarez, who are playing in the Premier League for Chelsea and Man City respectively, will be the leaders of the national team.