Sunday, December 10, 2023
HomeSoccerAll hail Messi, champion of the world, and Argentina's beating heart

All hail Messi, champion of the world, and Argentina’s beating heart

As Gonzalo Montiel scored from the spot in Qatar to win the Fifa World Cup for Argentina and finally put the seal on the most extraordinary of finals, Lionel Messi simply dropped and sat down on the Doha turf.

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Soon embraced in a huddle of his own teammates, at 35, arguably the greatest footballer of his generation, indeed of all time, finally had the one trophy he craved above all.

And boy, did he earn it. This was a match that transformed from an Argentina stroll in the park to almost certainly the best World Cup final ever. And Messi, throughout, was the beating heart of Albicelestes.

France’s own superstar Kylian Mbappe became only the second player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, but even he couldn’t grab the limelight from Messi here, finishing up looking more than a little unimpressed to be consoled in defeat by French president Emmanuel Macron.

Many may have felt Messi’s time to win a World Cup had come and gone, after the near miss in 2014 in Brazil, and especially after Lionel Scaloni’s side lost their opening match in Qatar to Saudi Arabia.

But the PSG maestro just kept driving them on, deservedly also ending up with the Golden Ball awarded to the tournament’s best player.

In Sunday’s final Messi was inspired from the start, spraying passes around that mere mortals would not be able to see, let alone execute to perfection. When Angel Di Maria, a stroke of genius in the starting line-up from Scaloni, won a penalty, it was, as usual, Messi who stepped up and beat Hugo Loris.

It was also Messi whose delightful flick to Julian Alvarez sparked an amazing counter-attack that ended with Di Maria firing in Argentina’s second.

It was Messi who, after Mbappe flickered into life in the final ten minutes of normal time to equal the scores, put Argentina in front again in the second half of extra time.

And it was Messi who netted Argentina’s first penalty in the shootout, coming through with flying colours after Mbappe had done the same for France. 

Mbappe, who turns 24 today (Tuesday) already has one World Cup title to his name, and will no doubt have a couple more chances to add to that number. This may well have been Messi’s last chance, and he grabbed it with all that he had.  



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