Lionel Messi has revealed that he believes England are one of three teams ‘above the rest’ as he named his favourites to lift the World Cup in Qatar in a month’s time.
The Argentine heads into what will likely be his last tournament with a place in the history books up for grabs. Should he make an appearance in three games across the showpiece, he will become his country’s most-capped player at a World Cup, overtaking fellow great Diego Maradona.
Meanwhile, seven appearances (i.e. A run to the final) will see him become the joint-highest capped player of any nation at a World Cup, drawing level with German warrior Lothar Mattheus.
He is not the only one heading to the tournament with records to break, and you can read about the others looking to take their place in history here.
Messi backs South American rivals for trophy
Speaking to the official CONMBEBOL youtube channel, the Barcelona great was quizzed on his favourites for the World Cup, and revealed that England, along with current World Champions France and South American rivals Brazil, were ‘a little above the rest’ when it came to winning the tournament.
”The candidates are always the same. There are a few surprises but in general, the big teams are the candidates”, he began.
“Above the rest? Brazil, France, England. Today, they are a little above the rest but anything can happen.”
It means that he has played down the prospects of his own nation, who beat Italy in the UEFA finalissima earlier this year and are on a 35-game unbeaten streak, having also lifted the Copa America in 2021.
According to the bookies, that puts them second favourites to win the competition, behind a talented Brazil squad and ahead of France and Spain while England lag further behind still.