Lionel Messi and Neymar will return to national team duties this week to launch the World Cup qualifying campaign, hoping the South American superstars will bring glory to Qatar in 2022.
If Messi takes Argentina to a third world title and for the first time since 1986, it will eventually put Diego Maradona’s loyal hearts. With his differences with Barcelona, the 33-year-old Messi will be crucial to his team when they host Ecuador on Thursday.
Despite being younger than Messi, Neymar could contact Brazil for a final chance to lead the Sixth World Cup. Neymar will be 30 years old when Qatar hosts the tournament in November and December 2022.
Neymar, who celebrated in Paris Saint-Germain after the Champions League runner-up campaign, but faced criticism from local fans, is likely to regain his love when he hosts Bolivia on Friday. Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002.
Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes said, “We have to play every match because it’s already the World Cup.”
Games will be played between Thursday and Tuesday at the empty stadium due to coronavirus restrictions. The South American Football Confederation has persuaded many local officials to take disciplinary action against visiting players.
Ten teams are fighting for four consecutive berths. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia start out as favorites for those places. The fifth-best team could qualify through the continental playoffs, with Peru and Chile being strong contenders. The qualifying phase ends in March 2022.