This is even the case among the Uruguayans and the Brazilians, who share a tenacious animosity for the neighboring selection.

According to a poll by the Brazilian Institute for Research and Data Analysis, a third of Neymar's compatriots put Argentina as the second choice to win the tournament.

Mateus da Silva, 25, met on Flamengo beach in Rio, will support the Argentinian rivals, "but not for them, for Messi, for everything he has done for football".

"It's a phenomenon," says this delivery man.

"Previously, there was hardly anyone to wish" a victory for the Argentinians, "considered arrogant", Uruguayan sports journalist Luis Prats told AFP.

"But this team seems more humble, more combative. And there is Messi, an idol, who is not a star like the others."

"Messi achieves a consensus like no other player," adds his colleague Diego Muñoz, from the sports channel ESPN, who notes that young Uruguayans wear the Argentine jersey, something unthinkable for their elders.

An Indian fan of Lionel Messi, in front of a statue of the Argentine star, on December 12, 2022 in Kolkata © DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP/Archives

According to a survey for the online media Montevideo portal, almost half of the 6,000 participants (47.5%) want an Argentinian victory when less than a third will support France (31%).

From Rabat to Dhaka, Messimania

Same bias in Germany where, according to a poll carried out in collaboration with FanQ by the sports agency SID, a subsidiary of AFP, 63.1% of those questioned have already named Messi as the best player of the tournament, against only 13.6%. for Frenchman Kylian Mbappé

Morocco coach Walid Regragui, who grew up in the Parisian suburbs, had given him his support for France after his team's defeat in the semi-finals.

Not sure if this is the dominant opinion in Morocco... Ouassim, 37, who does not give his name, is like many compatriots a fan of FC Barcelona, ​​​​the club where Messi wrote his legend.

He wants to see in the final "a Messi + maradonian + who will have crowned his magnificent career with a third star on the jersey of his national team."

A supporter of Lionel Messi's Argentina and his child in front of one of the World Cup-2022 stadiums, on December 3, 2022 in Doha © Adrian DENNIS / AFP/Archives

Meryem, 26, "respects Kylian" Mbappé.

"But he still has the whole future ahead of him to become a planetary star".

"Today, it's Messi who deserves to win a World Cup" - probably his last - said this mathematics teacher from Casablanca.

Same choice power 10 in Bangladesh, where the World Cup gave rise to impressive gatherings of supporters of Brazil and Argentina, the two most popular selections in this country of South Asia, land of cricket which is taken every four years of passion for football.

Houses adorned in light blue and white, prayers for the Albiceleste, passionate support on social networks, in Dhaka, it is Messi who we want to see triumph.

Support is less unanimous in Japan, but again, many dream of seeing Rosario's child finally crowned.

48-year-old Tokyo office worker Hideyuki Kamai thinks France are stronger, but he wants 'Messi to lift the World Cup'.

"If he won, he would give the Argentine people the same trophy as Maradona, perhaps the only player better than him in history", adds Leonardo Pini, a 25-year-old student from Rome, who also recalls the historical links between Italian and Argentine populations.

Infographic on Lionel Messi, emblematic player of the Argentina national team at the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 © Enric BONET-TORRA / AFP

The Netherlands with the Blues

Admittedly, this unanimity annoys Beatrice Mauriello, a 23-year-old Neapolitan student, who supports "France because (she) hates Messi: he has become a character who, whatever he does or says, is right and is untouchable".

The entire planet, with the exception of Beatrice and the French, would therefore be behind Argentina?

No... The Blues can count on the support of two-thirds of the Dutch, according to a poll.

Out of pure hatred of the Argentines after their lost quarter-final, concluded by an aggressive and very unsportsmanlike attitude from Messi's partners...

Argentina fans wear t-shirts bearing the image of legends Diego Maradona (R) and Lionel Messi (L), December 13, 2022 at the Lusail stadium in Doha © Giuseppe CACACE / AFP/Archives

President of an association of Oranje supporters, Henk van Beek, 52, is inexhaustible on the "favoritism" from which the Argentines would benefit "since the start of the competition", and their "arrogant behavior".

Also, he assures, the Dutch hope that the band of Didier Deschamps "will inflict a traumatic defeat (in terms of football of course) on Argentina".

© 2022 AFP