Lionel Messi: Argentina captain ‘very happy’ his last World Cup game was a final | Soccer News

Argentina captain Lionel Messi says he is “very happy” that his last World Cup game is in Sunday’s final, and has allayed any fears over his fitness.

Messi scored and put on Julian Alvarez at the iconic Lusail stadium on Tuesday night to beat Croatia 3-0 in the semi-finals, setting up a monumental final against either France or Morocco.

The 35-year-old, whose five goals in Qatar can only be matched by his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe, gave himself one last chance to lift the only trophy eluded him.

“I’m very happy to have finished my World Cup journey in the final, to play the last match in the final. It’s really very rewarding,” he said.

“Everything I have experienced in this World Cup has been moving, considering how much it has been appreciated in Argentina.

Argentinian Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi inspired Argentina’s 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia

“There are a lot of years between this year and the next. I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. To end this way is great.”

Messi also downplayed everything fears of injury. He was seen evaluating his thigh throughout the semi-final but says there is no problem.

“I feel really good, I feel strong and ready to play every game,” he added.

Scaloni: ‘An honor to coach Messi’

Lionel Scaloni was in tears after Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to the World Cup final and said it was “an honor to coach him”.

Scaloni, Messi’s team-mate with Argentina at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, said the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s performances drove the whole nation forward.

“I’m honored to coach him and see him play,” said the Argentina head coach. “Every time you see him play, it’s a huge motivator for his teammates, his fans and the whole world.”

“It’s not easy because we arrived tired but the group regained strength and we played a good game. I really appreciate that. I feel very happy in this World Cup and I can help the team .

“Every game since then has been a final and we have now won five finals in a row. Hopefully that will be the case on Sunday as well.”

The striker – who was part of the Argentina side that lost in the 2014 final to Germany in Brazil – also said the surprise opener loss to Saudi Arabia made Argentina stronger and hailed the response from his teammates.

Lionel Messi scores a penalty against Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals
Messi scores a penalty against Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals

He reflected: “I would say the first game [the defeat against Saudi Arabia] was a blow because we were unbeaten in 36 matches. To start like this in a World Cup, we did not think we would lose against Saudi Arabia.

“It was a decisive test for the whole team but we proved how strong we were. We won the other matches and it was very difficult what we did. Every match was a final and we knew that if we didn’t win, things would be complicated for us.

“We have won five finals and I hope that will be the case for Sunday’s final. We lost in the first match because of small details but it helped us to be stronger.”

Neville: Messi on a mission

Lionel Messi celebrates after team-mate Julian Alvarez scored Argentina's third goal
Messi celebrates after team-mate Julian Alvarez scored Argentina’s third goal

sky sports Expert Gary Neville says Messi delivers when it counts at the World Cup in Qatar.

Messi’s lack of a World Cup trophy has been the ex-Barcelona striker’s only real criticism when it comes to the debate over the world’s greatest footballer, Diego Maradona and Pele having both lifted the trophy.

Neville says Argentina’s setup gives Messi the perfect platform to produce at the other end of the pitch.

“It feels like a World Cup mission for him, for him and the rest of his team,” Neville said. ITV.

“They’re so collective around him in terms of the way they play. They’re almost like, ‘We’re going to keep a clean sheet, we’re going to be horrible playing against us, we’re going to do everything right and then he’s going to win us over. the game.” And that’s what happens.

He added: “Argentina have 10 fighters and a genius up front. They also have the best fans in the tournament. They grew in the tournament.

“It’s a mission. One that he [Messi] book on its own right now.”

Martinez: It’s us against the rest of the world

Emiliano Martinez says Argentina’s ‘fighters’ are ready for one last battle in their quest for glory at a World Cup where, he says, ‘everyone wanted us to lose’.

“I can’t believe it,” said Argentine goalkeeper Martinez. “We lost the first game. Suddenly everything is upside down. People doubt us. Obviously we lost the 36-game unbeaten streak.

“Against Mexico, the first half was a bit sloppy. Everyone wanted us to lose, so it’s us against the rest of the world.

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

Argentinian fans celebrated their participation in the World Cup final until the wee hours of the morning in Buenos Aires!

“I’m so happy that this group of players are all fighters and that we have 45 million Argentines behind us.

“It’s just amazing. We feel the crowd in the streets – they’re all full of Argentinians. Every time we play, we feel at home. We feel at home.

“There are 40,000, 50,000 Argentines on every pitch. We are so happy to have them.”

When asked who he would prefer in the final – France or Morocco – Martinez said be in sports“Whoever it is. They both had an amazing run, they’re two different teams.

“They’re both very good, so whoever comes, it’s a World Cup final, so we know it’s going to be tough.”

Can Messi end the GOAT debate?

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni hugs Argentina's Lionel Messi
Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni hugs Lionel Messi

Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:

For so long, the big question mark over Lionel Messi’s status as a the GOAT was his failure to win the World Cup.

Regardless of his unrivaled achievements – seven Ballon d’Or titles, four Champions Leagues and even winning the Copa America two summers ago – you can still say he never managed to do what Diego Maradona did. could do in 1986.

The extra-time loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil seemed to be his last blow. The one who got away, maybe.

But, at the ripe old age of 35, Messi seized the opportunity for one last dance. He wants to settle the debate once and for all.

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

Danny Mills and Kris Boyd ponder whether Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time as he seeks to win his first World Cup with Argentina

It hasn’t been without its challenges either. Remember, it all started with a loss to Saudi Arabia in Argentina’s opener 21 days ago. Rival fans were shouting: “Where’s Messi?!” after that.

He’s in the final now.

Messi has scored in all three of Argentina’s knockout matches at this World Cup, leading them past Australia, the Netherlands and Croatia. No player has scored more than their five goals in Qatar.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker timed this rich vein of form to perfection. His strike from the penalty spot was emphatic and his dribbling for the third goal spellbinding. It’s his time.

Messi can walk around the pitch, but he’s unstoppable. A victory on Sunday and it becomes eternal, undoubtedly.

Leave a Reply