PARIS, France – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema… At the age of thirty, they have won everything at club level, but they lack a World Cup. In Qatar, this will undoubtedly be their last opportunity.
If the giants of the game Ronaldo and Messi, twelve Ballons d’Or and nine Champions Leagues between them, have left only crumbs to their competitors for more than fifteen years, the two ogres are still waiting to win the most beautiful of trophies.
Finalist in 2014 against Germany (1-0 ap), the “Pulga” (35 years old on June 24) has assets to believe in it, in the wake of the Copa América won last summer with Argentina.
This coronation, the first since 1993 for the Albiceleste, dispelled doubts about the leadership of Messi, whose history in selection is strewn with missed appointments.
Average (6 goals and 13 assists in Ligue 1) for his first year at Paris SG, the striker has time to find his level at FC Barcelona. “After a season of adaptation, we are going to see the best Leo,” promised team-mate Ander Herrera.
The Qatari World Cup could be his last. After the competition, “I will have to take stock of a lot of things. Whether it goes well or badly. Hopefully in the best way,” he said in March.
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Do not talk about retirement to Cristiano Ronaldo: “I am asked the same question. The only one who will decide is me, and no one else, ”replied the Portuguese (37) in March.
“CR7” has just completed a new high-flying season on an individual level, with 18 goals in the Premier League. But Manchester United disappointed. He promised in 2022-2023 to support the rebound of the “Red Devils”, under the orders of their new coach, Erik ten Hag.
The striker will also have to be effective from the group stage of the World Cup, where confrontations await him against other thirty-something stars: South Korea of Son Heung-min (30 years old on July 8) and Uruguay of Luis Suárez (35 years old).
The former glory of FC Barcelona said goodbye to Atlético Madrid in May. After an exercise with eleven goals in La Liga, he is looking for a club.
His name should often come back this summer in a transfer window for attackers which promises to be boiling, with headliners like Kylian Mbappé and Robert Lewandowski. The Pole (34 on August 21) wants to leave Bayern Munich after eight trophy-rich years.
Poland especially hopes that its superstar will not lose the way of the goal, to finally qualify for the 8th finals, after three consecutive eliminations from the first phase.
As for Luka Modric (36), for his last lap it seems difficult for him to do as well as the 2018 final despite his impressive form with Real Madrid, with Croatia offering fewer collective guarantees.
The French Karim Benzema (35 years old on December 19), the German Manuel Neuer (36 years old) or the Belgian Kevin De Bruyne (31 years old on June 28) have more chances of winning the World Cup, within stronger selections .
The four superstars have chained again this season. “There is no age limit for me. I’m not saying it’s over at 40,” the Bayern goalkeeper said.
Benzema (44 goals) completes an exceptional exercise with Real Madrid which makes him the big favorite for the next Ballon d’Or. The striker has revenge to take with the Blues, after his six-year ban due to his legal disputes.
“The World Cup is the ultimate trophy. You have to put France in the favorites, ”said TF1 in January, the former Lyonnais, who is playing the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 28.
Eliminated by Real in the semi-finals, De Bruyne is in perfect position to win the Premier League on Sunday with Manchester City. With 15 goals, he was once again one of the centerpieces of Pep Guardiola’s team.
But the Fleming has still not succeeded in leading Belgium and its golden generation (Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard…) to a title. Six months before the start of the competition, there is still time to dream.