ᑕ❶ᑐ World Cup 2022: “Qatar 2022 on the verge of being Lionel Messi’s World Cup”

Host country: Qatar Destination: November 20-December 18 Cover: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Daily TV programsFull coverage details

Lionel Messi’s last dance will last until the music stops in Qatar on Sunday as he is just 90 minutes away from the final prize to seal the World Cup forever.

Just as Diego Maradona indelibly marked Argentina’s victory in Mexico in 1986, and Brazil striker Ronaldo wrote their redemption story in Yokohama in 2002, if he inspires victory over France or Morocco in the final, it will be known as Messi’s World Cup.

Argentina’s campaign in Qatar began with the ignominy of what remains the biggest shock of this World Cup when they lost to Saudi Arabia.

But the masterful Messi and his apprentice Julian Alvarez’s 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia served as an ominous warning that their fans have yet to reach the perfect crescendo they’ve hit at Lusail Stadium for so long. after the final. Whistle.

So it’s back to the Lusail Cosmos on Sunday to see if Argentina can win their third World Cup in their sixth final, and if the player widely regarded as the greatest player the game has ever seen can finally claim the coveted prize. his arrival.

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For a while at least, it looked like the perfect ending that romantics and Argentina supporters had been dreaming of would turn into a nightmare as a scowling Messi bent over and felt the top of his left hamstring in the 19th minute.

Messi, who equaled Lothar Matthaus’ World Cup record of 25 games, took the step that the 35-year-old has done so much in his current routine, feeling uncomfortable.

But he headed home Dominik Livakovic from the penalty spot after 34 minutes after the Croatian keeper fouled Alvarez.

Alvarez then started from Messi in Croatia’s half five minutes later before going on a long, meandering drive with rebounds from Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa before beating Livakovic.

The highlight of the duo’s masterclass was when Rosario’s wizard Messi more or less destroyed one of the tournament’s standout defenders after 69 minutes.

Messi looked trapped on the touchline, but his spin and quickness kept him away from Josco Guardiol, now regarded as an A-List defender and rumored to be leaving RB Leipzig for €70m to set up the predatory Alvarez. .

At that time, Messi hypnotized Guardiol not only once, but several times.

He, like Messi in the Argentine national team, and Luka Modric in the Croatian national team, the history of the World Cup of two great players goes back to Germany in 2006.

Modric’s night was not to be. He won’t have the chance to make up for losing to France in the 2018 final in Moscow, but received a standing ovation from the entire stadium when he was substituted nine minutes from time.

At the final whistle, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni broke down in tears in Messi’s arms, thanking both for a performance that brought them to the brink of career glory.

Messi’s story continues until Sunday, when he will finally have the chance to erase the memories of his very obvious distress and frustration when he failed to prevent Argentina from losing 1-0 to Germany at the iconic Rio Maracana in 2014.

In a testament to his longevity and enduring talent, his contribution to Croatia saw him become the first player since 1966 to score and feature in four separate World Cup matches – Serbia in 2006 and here in Qatar against Mexico, the Netherlands and Croatia.

Argentina scored 12 goals in this World Cup. Messi scored five goals and provided three assists – he did not pick up another assist for Alvarez’s header that put Argentina on course to double their lead.

He has a total of 11 goals in the World Cup, which is an Argentine record.

Messi is tied with Kylian Mbappe with five goals in the “Golden Boots” competition held in Qatar. Could this contest also be decided on the world’s biggest sporting stage on Sunday?

Messi or Maradona?

BBC Sport pundit and former England captain Alan Shearer says Argentina’s World Cup cancellation on Sunday could have wider implications for the debate over who is the country’s greatest footballing product – Messi or Maradona.

Shearer said: “What a story it would be if Argentina won the World Cup. Does this end the Messi or Maradona debate? »

“We said if Messi wins the World Cup here, maybe he should. That’s the difference [in the past]that was the starting point – Maradona won the World Cup. If Messi won here, my opinion would change. »

For club and country, Messi won and did everything – except win the World Cup.

Could that moment of destiny come to Lusail Stadium on Sunday? If so, it will forever be known as the Lionel Messi World Cup.

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