According to the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 winner Javi Martinez, his bet is on Argentina at the impending FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Regardless of the fact that, he also has some sentimental fondness for his nation Spain, he thinks Argentina has a strong team to deliver.
When Javi Martinez ended a nine-year stay at Bayern Munich to complete a move to Qatar SC, he was following on a well-trodden path of Spanish international players spending the twilight of their careers at the home of the FIFA World Cup™ 2022.
His former international teammate Xavi had become a banner kid for Al Sadd, burning through four years as a player and two as lead trainer at the Jassim container Hamad Arena. Playing under his tutelage at the club once captain by the incomparable Raul Gonzales were Santi Cazorla and Gabi.
As per Martinez, Fernando Hierro was his childhood player growing up; when he used to watch him on television as a kid.
“I always wanted to be like him, and there are similarities in the positions we play, even though he was a centre-back, but he was able to play in a holding role.”
For Martinez, it was a transition in the opposite direction; after rising to fame as a combative midfielder at Athletic Bilbao, he was converted into a centre-back at Bayern Munich by Pep Guardiola, another Spaniard who had once graced the Qatar Stars League pitches.
“I spoke to [Hierro] because he was my coach when I was in Spain youth setup. I talked to him because I needed to know a little more about Qatar and he was very helpful. He told me not to hesitate and to accept the offer because I will be very happy doing so, and he was right.
“When I arrived here, I found a completely different culture. What surprised me most here is how good people are; Qataris are open and very kind. I thought they would be a little more closed, but they treated me like one of their own from day one.
“What I love most, though, is that people here love inviting you over to their place to get to know their families, to have tea with them and this is something I adore; I also am an open person who values family. I like making new friends that I can have over at my place and to play cards or Padel with them. This is similar to things in Spain, and I love it.”
With over 3 million World Cup tickets already sold, those set out toward the Middle East’s very first FIFA World Cup™ can expect an epic experience at the eight host arenas. Having played a whole season and gone to the FIFA Middle Easterner Cup 2021™, Martinez spoke about his beautiful experience.
“I am sure people will find a country that is ready for the World Cup because for them, it’s a chance to show Qatar to the world and to show what a great country and great city they have. I believe they will do their best to do this and show Qatar in a good light. Organising a World Cup is no easy task but they are ready for it.
“They will find open and helpful people. You can see their ambition and desire in the stadiums to make this World Cup the best ever. The stadiums are unbelievable, all of them are five-star venues. and I think people will be blown away by those stadiums.”
Playing 17 minutes as a substitute against Chile, Martinez wrote his name into the history books of the FIFA World Cup back in 2010, becoming the youngest member of the Vicente del Bosque squad that brought home Spain’s first-ever World Cup trophy.
“Spain has a squad capable of winning the World Cup. It’s true, a lot of the players are young, but they have played at the highest level. Some of them have played for a few years in La Liga or other top European leagues but the World Cup is a very difficult competition and having a good squad alone is not enough. You need to know when to compete, and you need to have a bit of luck.
“You also need everything to go well during the competition and to stay clear of injuries. Thus, Spain does have a good shot at winning the World Cup, but it will not be easy.
“If everything goes well, they can leave a mark on the competition even if their group is a difficult one. I trust Luis Enrique’s ability; he is a coach I really like. Not just because of his style of play, but as a person too, the way he faces football as well as life. I think he will lead them down the right path and I hope they go as far as possible.
Four days in the wake of opening their campaign against Costa Rica, Enrique’s men will take on Germany in a repeat of the UEFA Euro 2008 final: the game that brought Spain’s first major trophy in half a century thanks to Fernando Torres. Spain’s third Group E game sees them play Japan.
“For me, perennial contenders are Germany, Spain, and Brazil, but there is one side that I feel have a better chance than the rest; Argentina.
“They have been good over the past two years, and they have Leo Messi who will give everything to get the title he is missing. If I had to bet all my money on one team, it would be Argentina.”
Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest opponents Martinez faced in his years competing in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.