Final chance at glory for these transcendent legends

In nine days, players around the world will battle for it all at the biggest international competition as their respective countries watch on the edge of their seats, eager to see their fellow countrymen defeat their opponents. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will officially kick off in Qatar in what will be a battle for the ages. 

Due to Qatar’s fierce summer heat, which reaches a daily average high of more than 106 degrees Fahrenheit, this year’s World Cup schedule was pushed back from the usual June start date to November. However, these unorthodox changes won’t get in the way of the historic event, which will likely be the last chance we see several of soccer’s most transcending legends compete for the grand prize.

Starting with arguably two of the greatest soccer players of all time, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both aiming to cap off their legendary careers with a World Cup win. The two rivals have previously won major international tournaments—Messi with the 2021 Copa America win with Argentina and Ronaldo with the 2016 Euro Cup win with Portugal—but neither has a World Cup. The former reached the World Cup Final in 2014 but ultimately lost against Germany. This year, however, Argentina has recruited some of the most impressive talents the country has ever seen with better midfielders and defenders than previous years. Currently on a 35-match stretch without defeat, Messi and Argentina have a solid shot at winning it all.

In early October, 35-year-old Messi announced that this World Cup will be his last, while 37-year-old Ronaldo has not confirmed his plans but expected Qatar to be his final World Cup years ago. Since the two of these legends have established a strong rivalry throughout their careers, this major piece of hardware can solidify one’s status over the other.

Among European aging stars that will compete at the World Cup for potentially the final time include France forward Karim Benzema, Poland forward Robert Lewandowski, German forward Thomas Müller, Wales forward Gareth Bale, and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric. On the South American side, Uruguay forward Luis Suarez and Brazil defender Thiago Silva are also expected to play their final World Cup this month. The drive these legends will show in Qatar will no doubt be all that they have left. 

Only one out of the 32 countries will make it out victorious. Will it be Messi and his Argentina squad? Or will it be Ronaldo and his Portugal squad? The world will find out after the final whistle is blown on Dec. 18.