Messi and his friends qualify for the final
There was no suspense in this semi-final won easily by Argentina which prevented Croatia from playing a second match for the title after 2018 (3-0). On the other hand, we were entitled to a flash. Lionel Messi scored a penalty and delivered one of the best plays of the tournament on the third goal. Argentina will aim for a 3rd star after 1978 and 1986.
Lionel Messi is only a short walk from the long-awaited planetary coronation. Still a magnificent leader of Argentina and author of the opener, he fully participated in the crushing victory of his team in the semi-final against Croatia (3-0). The Albiceleste, which saw Julian Alvarez score twice, has reached the World Cup final for the sixth time in its history. Only France or Morocco can now hope to shatter the dream of an entire nation, Sunday at 4 p.m.
It seems far away, the defeat of Argentina against Saudi Arabia (1-2), on November 22. South Americans, then on the edge of the abyss, are now close to paradise. For his 25th match in the World Cup, Lothar Mattaus’ appearance record equaled, Lionel Messi was the great architect of Argentine success. Fallers from Brazil in the previous round, the Croats had however started this meeting well.
Messi top scorer in Argentina at the World Cup
The Vatreni first imposed their technical mastery and the fluidity of their collective game to make their opponents run behind the ball. But as so often since the start of this competition, they were sorely lacking in weight and bite as they approached the opposing surface. And finally, a placement error from the Lovren-Gvardiol hinge was perfectly exploited by the double World Cup winners. Served full axis, Alvarez thus obtained a penalty (32nd).
With a perfect shot under the bar, La Pulga paved the way for its partners, thanks to its 11th goal in the World Cup, Batistuta’s record beaten (1-0, 34th). Staggering, Zlatko Dalic’s players were dented on a devastating Alvarez counter after a poorly negotiated corner. Starting from the central circle, Guardiola’s protege at Manchester City pierced through the entire opposing defense before taking advantage of two favorable counterattacks in the area to deceive Livakovic from the right (2-0, 39th).
The Croats were then stifled by the Argentine fervor, and narrowly missed conceding a third goal in stride (42nd, 43rd). Dalic’s changes at the break failed to transform his team, and in the end it was Messi, with a magnificent ride from the right side, who put an end to all suspense.
After tormenting Gvardiol, yet one of the best defenders of this World Cup, he delivered a center back in the area for Julian Alvarez, whose recovery of the right ended in the back of the net (3-0, 69th) . It was not until the 73rd minute of play to witness the first shot on target by Emiliano Martinez, who finally had a fairly quiet end to the match, before sinking, like all his country, into joy. The Argentinians will now want to avoid reliving the scenario of 2014, where they were surprised at the finish line by Germany.