Mon, 28 Nov 2022

DOHA, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Argentina captain Lionel Messi will be on display for the first time at this World Cup as Group C and Group D get underway on Tuesday. Here are four things to look out for on Day 3.

MESSI SWANSONG

Lionel Messi is making his fifth and almost certainly his last appearance in football's showpiece tournament as Argentina seeks to win the Jules Rimet trophy for the third time.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has trained apart from his teammates in the lead up to the Albiceleste's first match against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, seemingly in an effort to preserve his 35-year-old body for the busy schedule ahead.

Messi described last year's Copa America success - his first major trophy for Argentina - as "a monkey off my back". But it is the World Cup title that the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner craves most, and a triumph here would be a glorious final chapter to an astonishing career.

ERIKSEN RETURNS

Denmark's clash with Tunisia will mark Christian Eriksen's first appearance at a major tournament since he suffered a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. In his own words, the Manchester United midfielder "died for five minutes" before paramedics resuscitated him on the pitch.

The 30-year-old has since made an impressive recovery and leads a midfield that also includes Tottenham Hotspur's Pierre-Emile Kordt Hojbjerg and Sevilla's Thomas Delaney.

In a recent interview with FIFA, Eriksen revealed the World Cup was the motivating force during his convalescence, having watched from afar as Denmark advanced to the Euro semifinals without him.

LEWANDOWSKI IMPACT

This World Cup is likely to be Robert Lewandowski's last given he will be almost 38 when the 2026 edition gets underway in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

But the Barcelona striker is showing no sign of slowing down. Despite having only scored twice in six matches for Poland this year, the 34-year-old has been in prolific form at the club level, netting 19 goals across all competitions since his July move to Camp Nou from Bayern Munich.

"Many people look at my statistics and assume that if I scored I played well, and if I didn't I played badly," Lewandowski said in a recent interview when asked about his goal-to-game ratio.

"I'm well aware that's not always the case. Whether I score every game or not doesn't worry me."

MBAPPE'S TIME

The withdrawal of Karim Benzema from France's squad due to a quadriceps injury means there will be greater responsibility on Kylian Mbappe to lead France's attack here.

Just as he did in Russia four years ago, when France lifted the World Cup trophy for the second time, Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps appears set to deploy Olivier Giroud as a central striker, with Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe providing support.

Mbappe has been a consistent performer for France with 28 goals in 59 appearances but he will be determined to atone for a disappointing Euro 2020, in which he failed to score in four games and missed a penalty that led to his team's elimination in the last 16.

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