Messi lifts the World Cup, and here is how it happened. He delivered in spades in what seemed to be the last dance for Lionel Messi to get the most fabulous prize in football.
At age 35, Lionel Messi led an inexperienced side that stood the test of the giants of international football and won the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
With this being the ultimate prize in football, many claim that Lionel Messi has completed and conquered football and sealed the debate for the greatest of all time.
How did the final pan out?
France and Argentina played the final on 18th December at the Lusail Stadium. Both teams started with their best lineups on display, with Lloris leading the French team while Messi led the Argentinians.
On paper, France looked like the heavy favorites and was bound to win the Football World Cup back-to-back.
Surprisingly, the match did not play out that way at all. Argentina looked deadly right from the beginning, with successive chances being made left and right. The early threat led to Argentina winning a penalty early on, which Messi converted in the 23rd minute.
Being 1-0 down in the final is a difficult mountain to climb, and France placed their bets upfront, favoring a heavy attacking setup.
Wreckless attacking fired back at Le Blues, who got caught out on a counterattack. Mac Allister, breaking away, played a through ball across the face of the goal, which Di Maria put away. Score:2-0
Deschamps responded quickly by changing the strategy in the 41st minute, taking off Giroud and Dembele, two of the three strikers. He switched the focus of the attack to Mbappe, who was now playing a number 9 role.
Although the second half featured France creating more chances, they did not look threatening. In contrast, Messi and co looked deadly every time they were on the ball. France’s first shot attempt came in the 67th minute.
The tide shifted when Otamendi brought down Kolo Muani inside the box. The referee pointed toward the spot, and with Griezmann substituting, only one player could take it: Mbappe.
Mbappe slotted the ball into the left corner with a slow and careful runup.
After this goal, France looked much more energized as the pressure pelt up to Argentina. Soon enough, two minutes after the penalty goal, Mbappe took on a volley from the edge of the box.
The shot was so unexpected and quick that Martinez could not react in time. With his second goal in 2 minutes, the scores were level in minute 81.
With both teams having much more substitutions, the game continued as players tired. Both teams rely on transitions to bring them glory. Argentina broke through French defenses on the counter again.
With a 3-2 in front of the goal, Lautaro Martinez blasted it on goal, which Lloris parried away. Sadly for Lloris, he could do so only for it to fall for Messi, who tapped it in. 3-2 Argentina.
But Mbappe was carrying France in fluidity, whose shot got blocked by Montiel’sMontiel’s hand. PENALTY TO FRANCE. Mbappe, for the second time in the night, converted the penalty placing it in the same left-hand corner.
There was nothing to separate the two sides even after 120 minutes, with a score of 3-3.
Given how long the match had gone on, the teams looked starkly different from their starting lineups. Both sides were missing their key penalty-takers.
Nevertheless, Mbappe stepped up for France again, putting it in the left side of the goal for the third time in a row. While Messi and Dybala scored their penalties, Coman’sComan’s penalty was stopped by Martinez, giving Argentina the lead.
The following French penalty taker, Tchoumanie, missed the goal as well. France had a 2-goal deficit. Kolo Muani scored his penalty but so did Montiel crowning Argentina champion of the world.
Who won the awards
Argentina won emphatically, but some individual awards were also given at the closing ceremony. FIFA gave the Golden Ball (MVP of the tournament) to Messi for his seven goals and three assists.
Mbappe took the golden boot(top scorer) with his eight goals and was also the runner-up for the Golden Ball. Emiliano Martinez, the Argentinian goalkeeper, won the golden glove with his match-winning performances in shootouts VS the Netherlands and France.
Does this make Lionel Messi the undisputed GOAT?
The title of the GOAT (Greatest of all time) remained debated and disputed for a long. Many had their claims on it for certain times before the turn of the century. But ever since Messi-Ronaldo put on their show, the debate boiled down to these two.
Both sides had their reasons for their pick until now. Winning the ultimate prize in football, the World Cup, is a considerable feat. Many claims that this seals the debate for Messi.
This argument has alot of weight as although both Messi and Ronaldo had won international trophies, neither had won the world cup, yet.
With Messi completing the trophy cabinet, any counterarguments pale in comparison. But towards the end, it’s less about which player is better, but rather which player one likes the most.
What is next for Lionel Messi
Reaching the age of 35, many believe that Messi would hang (lift) up his boots for international football as Ronaldo promised if he won the World Cup.
But in an interview with Gaston, Edul Messi proclaimed: “I am not retiring from the national team,”…” I want to continue playing as a champion.”
With Copa America up in 2024, Messi will play to defend his title. Likewise, the next World Cup, America 2026, might also feature Messi, who will be 39.
Similarly, alot awaits Messi at the club level as well. With both he and Mbappe shining at the World Cup, it’s natural to expect them to show this performance together.
Their recent form might make PSG serious contenders for the UCL crown, which has eluded Mbappe and Messi for a long time.
Regardless of what step Messi takes next in his career, it might take a lot of work to follow up on this win. Winning the world cup is the ultimate highlight of his career, and he need not do anything else to prove the legacy he’she’s made in this sport.