Greatest World Cup Final Ever Crowns Argentina; Messi Champions

Argentina France

Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar – Lionel Messi’s Argentina defeated Kylian Mbappe’s France on penalties to win their third World Cup. Thirty-six years after Diego Maradona led Argentina to its second World Cup conquest, Lionel Messi willed his squad to glory.

The World Cup in Qatar 2022 has been an amazing tournament throughout, and the final match would be no different. A king of fútbol, Lionel Messi was seeking the final jewel missing from his crown, while the new royal, Kylian Mbappe, was staking his claim as the new ruler of the sport.

Messi put Argentina on the board first when he converted a penalty kick at the 22′ minute. Dembele committed the penalty on Di’Maria with some lazy and sloppy defending. The lack of urgency by Dembele allowed Di’Maria to slip into the box, where a subtle clip from behind caused the penalty to be called.

Di Maria was the angel of fortune for Argentina, scoring at the 35′ minute off an exquisite pass from Mac Allister. Messi began the play with a magical tap of the ball to spring MacAllister loose.  The Argentines led comfortably 2-0 in the first half and looked in control of the match.

The French manager, Didier Deschamps made two early substitutions at the 40′ minute in an effort to revive the Frenchmen. The moves worked as the team began to settle into the flow of the match.

In the second half, France was more assertive and the game became an open end-to-end match, with action on both sides. Otamendi committed a penalty on Kolo Muani and Mbappe slammed it past Martinez to put France on the board in the 80th minute. The score gave France new life and hope.

Mbappe scored again at the 81′ minute on a fantastic volley to tie the game at 2-2 and send the French into a frenzy. It was a miraculous comeback, and the Argentines were in shock, the game was slipping out of their hands.

No further damage from either team in regulation play, and the game headed to 30 minutes of extra time. Once again, it had to be Messi to score at the 108′ minute off a rebound to put Argentina up 3-2. The goal was reviewed by VAR for a possible offside and was allowed.

A few minutes later an Mbappe shot was deflected by Montiel with his elbow leading to a penalty kick being called by the referee at the 117′ minute. Kylian slipped the ball past Martinez to complete his hat-trick for the match, tying the score 3-3.

In what could be considered the save of the game, Emiliano Martinez deflected a Kolo Mauni shot at the 122′ minute that would have surely meant the win for France. Kolo Mauni broke away and took a shot, but Martinez closed out the angle spectacularly and miraculously deflected the ball. Time ran out, and the teams headed to penalty kicks.

Emiliano Martinez is a master gamesman, especially during penalty kicks. The Argentine goalie with his antics and mind games throws the opposing player’s concentration off, and it worked again against France. Martinez has a unique skill for guessing the direction of the shots and lunging like a cat to block them. Dibu blocked Coman’s penalty and got into Tchouameni’s head before the French player missed his penalty kick wide.

Montiel, the defender whose handball caused the penalty that led to France’s third goal, was the player that kicked the final penalty for Argentina. He scored the game-winner and immediately went from villain to hero. In a game that had all the twists and turns of a movie thriller, Argentina claimed the championship.

Perhaps the most ardent and die-hard fans in the world, the Argentine faithful lived and died several times during the match and can now say once more, Argentina is the champion of the world! Lionel Messi has conquered the one prize that had eluded him, and now he is the king among fútbol kings.

Final Thoughts

Lionel Messi and this Argentine team have become legendary, like a folktale in Arabian Nights, their story will be told from generation to generation. Messi, an unlikely hero, with superpowers on the pitch, yet shy and humble, and a motley crew of young and experienced players that came together at the perfect moment in time to overcome all obstacles on their way to finding the treasure of a lifetime.

This Argentine team came into the tournament on a thirty-six-game win streak, only to lose in humiliating fashion to Saudi Arabia 2-1 in their first match. At that moment the weight of the world fell on the team’s shoulders, specifically on Lionel Messi. The diminutive leader stood tall, telling everyone to keep the faith, that the team would bounce back. A bolder, more assertive side of Messi began to show, the “Maradona” people wanted to see.

The next match was better, as Messi and company defeated Mexico 2-0. The victory provided three important points, but the team still looked lackluster. Messi played brilliantly, but the rest of the squad did not look like champions. Argentina then defeated Poland 2-0 in their final group stage match and just made it out of their group.

Australia, known more for Rugby than fútbol gave Messi and his crew all they could handle in a 2-1 Argentine victory in the round of sixteen. The squad was slipping by teams, winning but not convincing many that they had what it took to win the tournament.

The thing with Argentinean teams is that despite the adversity faced, or criticism from the outside, they always have great confidence in themselves. Some see it as arrogance, but I see it as an unbreakable competitive spirit. This spirit is what allowed Messi to come back from all the criticism and unfavorable comparisons to Diego Maradona.

Against the Netherlands, Argentina came to life and played well early to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The team looked more focused and cohesive, dominating for long stretches of the match. Late in the game, the Netherlands tied the score and they went to penalty kicks. Argentina with their fantastic goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez came out on top and moved on.

Croatia, a formidable opponent was next for Argentina, and they were up for the challenge. It is uncanny how the Argentines often start slow in tournaments, win ugly and just get by, only to flip a switch and play their best in the most important and decisive matches. Against Croatia, the dominance was from beginning to end. Messi and company played an amazing game to totally dominate Croatia. It was on to the finals.

The defending champions France stood in the way of Messi and company, the final conquest. Argentina started the match with a fire and intensity that caught the French by surprise. Mbappe was muzzled early while Argentina took a 2-0 lead. The magnifique Mbappe scored twice before the end of regulation to tie the match and send the game into extra time.

Before the end of extra time, both teams scored to remain tied and send the game to penalty kicks. Messi and Argentina had the game in the bag, only to see themselves at the edge of misery and damnation.

The Arabian Nights for Argentina would end with conquest and glory! Messi had led his nation to the claim of the world’s greatest sporting honor, the World Cup. The story had come full circle, the small, shy, rejected boy grew into a prince, who became a king, then immortal.

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