Lionel Messi equals another World Cup record in Argentina’s win against Croatia

Lionel Messi equalled Lothar Matthaus’ record for the most World Cup appearances with his 25th start in Tuesday’s semi-final win against Croatia.

Until Tuesday, German legend Lothar Matthaus was the player who had played the most World Cup games in history.

At present, he shares that honour with Lionel Messi, who will break the record after guiding Argentina to the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

Matthaus’ record of 25 games played on the biggest stage has stood unchallenged since 1998, but Lionel Messi could be on the brink of yet more history.

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Messi’s World Cup journey began, curiously, at Germany in 2006, where the Albiceleste fell at the hands of the hosts.

Now at his fifth World Cup, he is hoping for a second final and a chance to go all the way.

With five goals, three assists and four MVP awards so far, this is Messi’s best World Cup to date. A vintage showing from a man determined to put the perfect finishing touches on his eternal legacy.

Putting Messi to one side, the other top appearance-makers at the World Cup are Matthaus (25 games), Miroslav Klose (24) and Paolo Maldini (23). Klose and Maldini needed just four tournaments to amass those numbers.

Matthaus made his appearances from 1982 to 1998, lifting the trophy in 1990. Curiously, though, he is not the player with the most World Cup minutes in history, with that honour belonging to Maldini.

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