A Goal Every Three Games: Lionel Messi's World Cup Career In Detail

2022 will be Messi's fifth World Cup finals appearance
23:00, 21 Nov 2022

There is a good feeling about Argentina’s chances for World Cup glory this year and all the focus is on their shining star Lionel Messi. The 35-year-old is about to embark on his fifth World Cup finals with La Albiceleste but his record in this prestigious competition to date has not always been as spotless as his club form...

2006 - Germany

Debut - Argentina 6-0 Serbia and Montenegro (Group Stage) - One goal, one assist

Used: Substitute

At 18 years of age, Messi made his World Cup debut against Serbia and Montenegro, coming on in the 74th minute, assisting and scoring in the 6-0 victory.

Netherlands 0-0 Argentina (Group Stage)

Used: Started

Messi was handed his first World Cup start by Jose Pekerman as La Albiceleste had already secured their place in the knockout stages

Argentina 2-1 Mexico (Round of 16) 

Used: Substitute 

Messi was subbed on in the 84th minute and had a goal controversially disallowed which saw the game go to extra time.

Total minutes: 121

Total goals: 1

Total assists: 1

Minutes per goal: 121

Goals per game: 0.33

Minutes per goal contribution: 61

2010 - South Africa

Argentina 1-0 Nigeria (Group Stage)

Used: Started 

After talks with manager Diego Maradona before the tournament, Messi was allowed to play in his natural position after having played deeper in midfield during qualifying.

Argentina 4-1 South Korea (Group Stage)

Used: Started

Despite a strong victory for Argentina, Messi was not able to get on the scoresheet or provide an assist even though he was dictating play.

Greece 0-2 Argentina (Group Stage)

Used Started

Another strong victory for Argentina with Messi pulling the strings but goal contributions were still eluding him.

Argentina 3-1 Mexico (Round of 16) - One assist

Used: Started

It was another impressive performance from Messi against Mexico and he finally got involved with a goal as he teed up Carlos Tevez for the first goal of the game.

Argentina 0-4 Germany (Quarter-Final)

Used: Started

A game where everything just fell apart for Argentina. They were outclassed by Germany and Messi couldn't gain control of the game at all on an afternoon which typified Maradona's kamikaze approach.

Total minutes: 450

Total goals: 0

Total assists: 1

Minutes per goal contribution: 450


2014 - Brazil 

Argentina 2-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina (Group Stage) - One goal

Used: Started

Although Sead Kolasinac’s early own goal opened Argentina’s account in Brazil, it was Messi who was the first Argentine to find the back of the net in the tournament.

Argentina 1-0 Iran (Group Stage) - One goal

Used: Started

He left it late but Messi made himself the hero with a dramatic late winner against Iran.

Nigeria 2-3 Argentina (Group Stage) - Two goals

Used: Started

Messi’s first World Cup brace saw Argentina finish their group campaign in style in a five-goal thriller with Nigeria.

Argentina 1-0 Switzerland (Round of 16) - One assist

Used: Started

It was the late show for La Albiceleste again in the last 16 as it took 118 minutes for the winner in which Messi assisted Angel Di Maria to fire them through to the quarter-finals.

Argentina 1-0 Belgium (Quarter-Finals)

Used: Started

Gonzalo Higuain’s early goal was enough to send Argentina through to the semi-finals but Messi was surprisingly not involved in the goal despite the fine form he was in.

Netherlands 0-0 Argentina (2-4) (Semi-Finals)

Used: Started

After Ron Vlaar squandered the Netherlands’ first spot-kick, Messi made no mistake as he paved the way to the final for his country.

Germany 1-0 Argentina (Final)

Once again it was Die Mannschaft who were Argentina’s undoing at the World Cup. You can still picture Messi looking dejected as he walked past the iconic trophy.

Total minutes: 693

Total goals: 4

Total assists: 1

Minutes per goal: 173.3

Goals per game: 0.57

Minutes per goal contribution: 138.6

2018 - Russia

Argentina 1-1 Iceland (Group Stage)

Used: Started

After the heartbreak of 2014 and missing his penalty in the 2016 Copa America final loss to Chile, Messi announced his retirement from international football in 2016, only to change his mind two months later.

Upon his World Cup return, he missed a penalty against Iceland which would have given his side the lead.

Argentina 0-3 Croatia (Group Stage)

This was another bad day at the office for Messi and Argentina as they were bested by eventual runners-up Croatia.

Nigeria 1-2 Argentina (Group Stage) - One goal

Messi was able to get up and running in the final group match to give his side the lead. Had Marcos Rojo not won them the game after Victor Moses’ equaliser from the penalty spot, Messi would’ve gone home at the group stage for the first time in his career.

France 4-3 Argentina (Round of 16) - Two assists

Used: Started

This was a breathtaking match for the neutrals and Argentina were completely undone by Kylian Mbappe’s quickfire brace to swing the match back in their favour, which denied an interesting battle between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the quarter-finals.

Total minutes: 360

Total goals: 1

Total assists 2

Minutes per goal: 360

Goals per game: 0.25

Minutes per goal contribution: 120

Overall World Cup record

Total appearances: 19

Total minutes: 1,624 

Total goals: 6

Total assists: 5

Minutes per goal: 270.7

Goals per game: 0.32

Minutes per goal contribution: 147.6

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