ARSENE WENGER believes Qatar is the last chance World Cup saloon for Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and their galactico generation.
The former Arsenal manager is in Qatar in his role as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development and will analyse each of the 64 matches this winter.
And he has singled out Ronaldo and co. as having both the most to win – and lose – in what he predicts will be a tense, hectic tournament.
Wenger said: “It’s a bit exciting to see because [Lionel] Messi, Neymar, [Karim] Benzema are top of the world. [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Lewandowski – I forget many of course – they all go and think ‘this is my chance.’
“That’s why I would say the tension will be very high. I believe this World Cup is the last chance for the great players who have shown us all their talent in the last 10, 15 years. They will go there and think ‘it’s now or never’.”
Wenger, who was speaking on the FIFA Insight Live podcast, which is streaming now on all platforms, also called for the tournament to be an event to inspire world peace during the war in Ukraine and other global conflicts.
The French coach added: “The fact that the world is in one city at the period where you have tension points all over the world means my deep hope is that the whole world could show a fraternity and the message of togetherness in peace. That would be absolutely wonderful.
“I may be a dreamer, but that’s my secret! I hope that in a moment where every day we ask ourselves ‘do we go to war or not?’ to give that kind of message of peace and tolerance and acceptance of everybody. It is also one of happiness, to celebrate football.
“I’m grateful to the happiness football gave me all my life and the World Cup is the biggest opportunity for it.”
The former Arsenal manager also spoke out on the practical benefits of staging the event in one small city.
He concluded: “It’ll be the world cup of the freshness. For the first time, the players will go to the World Cup with only a maximum 20 [club] games played.
“The players can stay in the same room for the whole World Cup. Before you always came home at three or four o’clock in the morning.
“This time two hours after the game they are in bed and can recover. So I expect a very physical, very hectic and very tense World Cup with all the teams being at their best level.”
A new series for the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA Insight Live features Wenger alongside the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann. They will be breaking down all 64 matches in Qatar on the whistle as part of the FIFA Training Centre, applying new metrics and data to help fans understand football in more depth.