Former Germany and USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed his admiration for Lionel Messi and admitted that ‘everyone’ wants the Argentine national team captain to win the World Cup.
Klinsmann said Messi is adored by different nationalities that have gathered in Qatar for the World Cup. The German was addressing a joint press conference along FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger, with both of them being part of the FIFA Technical Study Group of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“There are many Messi fans and I think we all are. We want him to take that step and equal Diego Maradona. It would be an incredible story,” said the former German striker and coach ahead of Sunday’s title clash between France and Argentina at Lusail Stadium which will bring down the curtains on the nearly one-month long football fiesta.
“Messi’s magic is crucial. He is a differential player and you allocate everything to him,” he said on the importance of Messi, who is aiming to win his first World Cup title, having finished on the losing side in the 2014 final against Germany in Brazil.
“The Argentine lives off the emotions and the support of his fans. I think tomorrow there will be 75% of Argentine fans in the stadium. They have been here for several weeks, they went through difficult times like in the first game but after Mexico they breathed again,” added Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup with Germany in Italy.
Asked which player of this World Cup he and long-time Arsenal coach Wenger would like to sign as club coach, Klinsmann said: “Everyone would take Messi. He is brilliant, he is a different player. Of course, every coach’s tactic is to give him all the cards.”
Frenchman Wenger also praised Messi ahead of the final match.
“More than 16 years after we first faced him, he’s still looking to be the best player in the tournament. I’m grateful for what he made us enjoy,” said Wenger.
The Frenchman highlighted that when he faced Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final as coach of English Arsenal, Messi was already emerging as a figure (despite not having played that game due to injury) and more than 16 years later he is still at the top of world football.
“It is the sample of the evolution of modern soccer since in this World-wide one the young players and the experienced stood out,” added Wenger.
Both Wenger and Klinsmann provided a comprehensive analysis of the final and the role of Messi and Kylian Mbape ahead of the title clash
“It is no coincidence that France and Argentina have reached the final, because they have players who can finish off the crosses that arrive. For the coaches of the future, we have to work on developing strikers who know how to finish off crosses and aerial balls in general. The big clubs will go looking for strikers with these characteristics” Klinsmaan, who coached the German team in 2006 and USA in 2014.
Analysing the two finalists ahead of the Sunday final, he said: “They are two similar teams. With very explosive speed and high quality players on an individual level. Mbappé, Dembélé, Griezmann, on the one hand; Messi, Julián Álvarez, on the other… he’s going to be a fascinating opponent. We will see who takes more risks, perhaps at the beginning of the game they will neutralize each other in the midfield,” added Klinsmann, who played 109 internationals for Germany.
Klinsmann analyzed the game trends in football at the 2022 World Cup, in terms of the style, with reference to possession and dominating the ball.
“To go far in the tournament you have to have good players one on one, who take risks. There are others who have followed the example of the Spain model, of playing at first and second touch. In this World Cup that only works if you are effective in the area. Otherwise, it would be better to play on the counterattack,” he said.
He shot down the notion that the Tiki Taka style model which Spain is known for has died.
“It is not something that is finished. Spain has a lot of quality and a great ability to maintain possession, but the key to this tournament is that you need players who shoot and can score goals. It is something that has been costing Spain for a long time. We see how Guardiola, for example, has signed (Erling) Haaland and this is because, despite having possession, they need a ‘9’ that shoots inside the area”, he said.
“The era of long-time superstars like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is slowly coming to an end. And even if my country Germany flew home early: There is a very special boy there — Jamal Musiala. There are some highly talented players in world football who are just coming up. Musiala and Argentine striker Julian Álvarez are among them.”