Lionel Messi, the soccer superstar, showed his brilliance once again in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Argentina and Ecuador. After a goalless game, Messi scored a stunning free kick in the 78th minute, securing a 1-0 victory for Argentina. The crowd went wild, and Messi celebrated with his teammates.
Messi’s incredible free-kick goal is something he’s done many times before, both with his current MLS team, Inter Miami, and with the Argentina national team. He left the field to cheers from the fans after his goal.
Argentina now has three points in the Conmebol qualifiers, while Ecuador finishes with minus-three points. In 2026, the World Cup will have an expanded format with six South American teams qualifying directly, and one team going through a FIFA playoff tournament.
Messi is set to play for Argentina in two World Cup qualifying matches this month. After facing Ecuador, Argentina will play Bolivia on September 12.
His commitment to the national team means he’ll miss Inter Miami’s game against Sporting Kansas City, and there might be an impact on his availability for the match against Atlanta United on September 16.
As for Messi’s future in international soccer, it’s uncertain if he’ll participate in the 2024 Copa America and the 2026 World Cup or retire from the national team before then. He has said that the decision will come naturally with time.
Despite expectations that the 2022 World Cup would be his last, Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni believes Messi could still play in the next World Cup if he wants to. The door remains open for him.
Messi’s World Cup win with Argentina last year was a historic moment. He was a key player in their victory over France, earning him the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s best player.
Since then, Messi moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Inter Miami in the MLS. He explained that this decision was made over time, unlike his sudden departure from Barcelona. He has been in excellent form with Inter Miami, scoring 11 goals in his first 11 games.
Messi helped Inter Miami win the Leagues Cup and will compete in the U.S. Open Cup final. However, in the MLS playoff race, the team is facing a tough challenge, currently eight points behind D.C. United in the Eastern Conference. Messi’s transition to life in the MLS has been a significant change for him.