February 3, 2023

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Lionel Messi cemented his place among the greats after winning an epic duel against Kylian Mbappe

Lionel Messi cemented his place among the greats after winning an epic duel against Kylian Mbappe



CNN

Now there can be no arguments. Now there should be no discussion.

in the most dramatic and nerve-wracking way imaginable, Lionel Messi Finally got his hands on it world Cup With him, he cemented his place in the group of football greats alongside them Diego Maradona And the pellet.

The final was as good as football. A game for the ages with a fantasy ending.

miss you Kylian Mbappethe two stars of the game managed to achieve the best results world Cup final in history. Football may be a team game, but it was a battle for a prize between two players who will be remembered as the greats of all time.

Mbappe scored a stunning goal, making him only the second man in history to do so in a World Cup final, and won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the tournament’s top scorer – but fell agonizingly short in his efforts to single-handedly retain the trophy for France.

At just 23 years old, Mbappe’s impressive performances have confirmed his status as the future of the sport. He has now scored four goals in World Cup finals, the most by any player in history, and is equal to Pele on 12 total World Cup goals. He has enough time to beat all-time World Cup top scorer Miroslav Klose with 16.

But for all the history Mbappe created on a magical, lit night in Doha, this was the final for Messi. The Argentina captain wasn’t ready to hand over the torch just yet.

The 35-year-old has been relentlessly brilliant throughout this tournament, playing with a strength and steely determination stemming from the innate belief that this trophy was his destiny, a remarkable World Cup farewell written in the stars.

After Gonzalo Montiel rolled in the winning penalty kick, Messi sank to his knees and buried his face in his hands. The moment he always had He was finally dreaming about it here.

His colleagues flocked to him, dropping to their knees to embrace their captain; They wanted to win this as much for him as they wanted for themselves.

They stood together and headed towards their adoring fans to join in the festivities. It was estimated that around 40,000 Argentine fans traveled to Qatar and were vocal in their support throughout the tournament.

The players hoisted the Argentine flag over their shoulders and tied around their waists, leaping in unison with the wall of white and blue shirts in the main stand of Lusail Stadium.

They had to be patient and have endured their share of heartbreak since they last won the World Cup in 1986, but it was worth the wait.

Messi's teammates join him in celebration.

Messi burst into life within three minutes at the Lusail Stadium, picking up the ball in a pocket of space between the French midfield and defense and volleying wide down the left into Angel Di Maria’s path.

This led to the first chance of the game – with Messi also once again taking part in the crowd, exchanging quick passes on the edge of the penalty area – but the last defense and the referee’s flag prevented Julián Alvarez from getting a clean look.

It’s no secret that winning the World Cup with Argentina has been Messi’s lifelong dream, bordering on an obsession.

Although there is no doubt that Messi, at the age of 35, is slowing down his near-superhuman powers that are beginning to wane, there are still several moments in this World Cup of magical, silly brilliance that fans are so used to seeing. the years.

His goals against Mexico and his assists against the Netherlands and Croatia are undoubtedly among his most memorable goals in an Argentina shirt and helped drag that team into the final, giving the young wizard one last chance to win the trophy he craves most.

Messi's teammates celebrate with him after scoring the opening goal.

In the 23rd minute, Messi got a chance to cement his name in history with another decisive moment in his career, after a clumsy mistake by Osman Dembele dropped Di Maria inside the penalty area.

Then, Messi stepped up to take the penalty kick, becoming the only man to score in the group stage, round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final and final of a single World Cup, according to Opta. Just when you think there can be no more records to break, Messi finds another.

He is also the second highest scoring player in a final, and with his 26th World Cup appearance, no male player has appeared in as many World Cup matches. His performance also earned him the Golden Boot, as well as the tournament’s Player of the Year award.

For all his amazing and ridiculous abilities, penalties are perhaps the only major part of the game that Messi has struggled with over the years, with many missing on huge occasions.

But that didn’t affect his confidence, as he got up and carelessly rolled the ball into the corner, sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way.

He played a part in Argentina’s superb second too, leading the counter-attack that led to Di Maria’s goal with a delightful little flick near Julián Alvarez.

Even Messi was joining the defensive duties for Argentina, tracking down and picking pocket Randall Kolo Mane, who had been brought on by Dider Deschamps in a surprise double substitution just before half-time.

Even the most ardent and optimistic Argentina fans could not dream of a first half as good – and direct – as Messi and his team mates.

It seemed impossible that this could be the same team that stunned Saudi Arabia in the opening group match – a performance so devoid of personality and heart that many wondered if Argentina would make it out of the group.

Messi grabs the fans' adulation after he scores a penalty kick.

But as the tournament progressed, Argentina and Messi got better.

With every passing performance, every moment of Messi’s magic, fans began to believe that the script had already been written, that the boy from Rosario would end his World Cup career – he said this would be his last – in the greatest way imaginable. Few, however, could have expected such a dramatic ending.

As the second half wore on, the Argentine fans inside the stadium and tens of millions of viewers around the world were more and more confident that this would truly be a routine triumph, the culmination of a lifelong dream.

However, as great as Argentina was, France was just as disappointing. According to Per Opta, this was the first time since 1966, when statistics began to be compiled, that a team had failed to score a shot on goal in the first half of a final.

Stefano Pozzepone Argentine World Cup

Fans in Argentina fool the reporter while celebrating their World Cup victory

It was a historically bad performance from France and Mbappe. Until it wasn’t, that is.

Within an improbable 90 seconds, France came back from 2-0 down to tie the game and, in perhaps the most predictable moment of all, it was Mbappe who scored twice.

The first was a low penalty, drilled hard enough to stand in the bottom corner, despite the hand of Aimee Martinez, and the second a fine volley after receiving a pass from Marcus Thuram.

Messi’s fate was cruel, as he was responsible for giving away the ball, which led to France’s equalizing goal. After dragging his team to the brink of eternity, Messi’s mistake proved that it was indeed a fatal one.

However, there was more to come.

Messi had his moment, his second goal, after Lloris saved Lautaro Martinez’s goal – it was Messi’s 98th goal in an Argentina shirt, and was undoubtedly his biggest goal to date.

But still, France, and more specifically Mbappe, is not finished.

Messi got the only trophy that eluded him in his career.

The PSG striker stepped up after Montiel blocked his arm and buried the second penalty to take this remarkable final to a penalty shootout.

It would have been fitting that both Messi and Mbappe scored penalties after producing one of the best duels the sport has seen, but more heroics from Martinez in the Argentina goal ensured that it was Messi who lifted the trophy.

From the moment he was old enough to kick a ball, Messi’s greatest desire was to win the World Cup with Argentina. It was never easy, but through sheer force of will he finally realized his lifelong dream.

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