February 4, 2023

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Qatar 2022: A glorious final sends Argentina and Messi into football’s sky

A glorious final for a legendary player: Lionel Messi’s Argentina beat France (3-3) on penalties on Sunday to win soccer’s World Cup in what could be the greatest final of all time.

But what is it? Because Messi, one of the best players of all time, if not the best, can only hope that the curse that follows him at the World Cup is about to experience a new chapter.

The Argentines took a 2-0 lead with a penalty and a goal from favorite lieutenant Angel Di Maria (23rd, 36th) and dominated the outgoing champions head and shoulders, with Kylian Mbappe, the other star on the turf, bringing his team back on top. In seconds (80th, 81st). Messi then saw the French win his second penalty of the evening (118th), while the Argentine restored the advantage for his people and tormented his crowd (109th).

But after four defeats, this time it was an entertaining evening for football fans. A penalty was conceded against a team that refused to lose, but Kingsley Coman and Aurelian Dichoumeni saw their efforts miss in this dreadful test.

This third star of the Albiceleste, after the teams led by Daniel Passarella (1978), Diego Maradona (1986) will bear the mark of Messi, voted the best player of the tournament, to the delight of millions of his players and supporters around the world. Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick in the finals for the first time since Geoff Hust (1966), had not received this poor consolation.

Before this coronation, the 35-year-old Rosario’s child won it all at clubs, especially with FC Barcelona. But in his choice, he is satisfied with Copa America (2021). Won at his fifth attempt, this world title joins Maradona, the legend of “El Pipe de Oro”, who was crowned in 1986. And he equaled Pele with twelve goals in five editions of the premier football competition. A trio that looks like the Holy Trinity to football fans.

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Messi did something neither his two elders nor anyone else could: he scored in the group stages and then in four knockout matches…including twice in the final…

For defending champions France, this last step was too much.

Resilient, the Blues have so far weathered several headwinds: the sackings of managers, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, Karim Benzema, and then the virus that affected personnel in the semi-final and final week. Admirable fighters, they still thought they were twisting the hand of misfortune on Sunday.

But France will not become the third country to hold the best trophies in football, as Italy (1934 and 1938) and then Brazil “King” Pele (1958 and 1962) did. He is the only one to win two titles before celebrating his 24th birthday, so Kylian Mbappe won’t.