Lionel Messi’s Dream Remains Alive as Argentina Overpowers Croatia to Reach the World Cup Final
Lionel Messi’s dream of leading Argentina to World Cup glory will continue until the final day of Qatar 2022, as the Albiceleste overcame a tired Croatia with a 3-0 semi-final win.
Two goals in the first half, the first from Messi’s penalty and the second from Julian Alvarez’s solo effort, put Argentina in a dominant position at halftime, a position Croatia had yet to achieve. Alvarez secured the victory with Argentina’s third goal in the second half after a wonderful assist from Messi, giving the South American team and their 35-year-old captain the chance to banish the demons of the final defeat from 2014, and to protect the country. . First World Cup since 1986.
Messi spent part of the game feeling the effects of his left hand, although you wouldn’t think it was hurting him from his labyrinthine path, running confused Joško Guardiol, one of the best defenders in ‘this game, to create Argentina’s third goal. There is no doubt that Messi’s near-term power is waning as he plays in the twilight of his career, but the little magician still has the ability to produce moments of genius just when his country needs him most.
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His goal against Mexico in the group stage, the assist against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and his overall performance in Tuesday’s semi-final provided even more memorable moments for the nation of 45 million who consider him to be not far off. by being a god. . It is estimated that up to 40,000 Argentine fans traveled to Qatar for the World Cup, according to the Argentine Embassy in Qatar, and it seems that all of them were inside the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday night.
As the clock ticked down into injury time and victory in doubt, the Argentine bench and coaching staff began to join in as chants and chants rang out from the stands. After the final whistle, the Argentine players stood in front of a large wall of blue and white shirts and saluted their admirers.
It is almost impossible to believe that this is the same side that lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia just three weeks ago in their opening game of the group – the kind of lackluster and uninspired performance that made while some wonder if Argentina will remove it. leave the group. Now, against France or Morocco, Messi will have the last chance to lift the trophy he always dreamed of.
A fateful day
Along with Messi and Croatia’s Luka Modrić, the two captains led their country to victory in the World Cup and it will be the last chance for both to get their hands on football’s most coveted prize. No team is among the favorites before Qatar 2022, but Croatia surprised the world four years ago when they reached the final and did it again in the previous round in Qatar, beating Brazil, before the tournament favorites , and penalties in a. show courage. and determination.
Modrić, Croatia’s star player and living legend in the small Balkan country, enjoys the biggest game and, alongside Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, is among Qatar’s best footballers. Argentina, on the other hand, played well as the tournament progressed – although they couldn’t have been worse after that big win over Saudi Arabia.
The team, which seems to believe that the script set for Messi’s last dance will end in glory on Sunday, almost everyone entered the stadium that day. Although Croatia started the game better than the two teams, these players played as many minutes as possible in Qatar, defeating Japan and Brazil on penalties after two exhausting periods.
Their tired legs seemed to indicate from the start of the Lusail Stadium that even a mistake there could be costly. That turned out to be the case for Croatia as, surprisingly, Modrić of all people gave the ball in midfield and Guardiol did not follow Alvarez, leaving Dominik Livakovic – Croatia’s double in Qatar – a one-on-one performance against Manchester City striker.
Alvarez played the ball around Livakovic, whose outstretched leg tripped the striker, and Messi failed to convert the resulting penalty, smashing it into the top corner. It was Messi’s 11th World Cup goal, passing Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s top scorer in the World Cup.
The game quickly seemed to go away from Croatia as Alvarez made it 2-0 five minutes later. Borna Sosa’s poor cross in the box triggered the Argentine attack, and Alvarez covered three quarters of the length of the pitch and, after two ricochets.