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Argentina's entry into the World Cup final: one more victory to immortality


Doha shines in sky blue and white: After beating Croatia 3-0, Argentina is in the World Cup final. A young attacker works hard and scores, Lionel Messi dribbles like he used to – and his team gets better with every game.

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On the way to crowning his career: Lionel Messi


A Gate of Will:

An Argentinian player who runs from the halfway line, gets past all opponents and scores in a World Cup knockout game.

Doesn't that bring back memories of the great Diego Maradona and his goal of the century in the quarter-finals against England in 1986?

No not really.

But that shouldn't detract from Julián Álvarez's performance.

The young attacker didn't dribble through seven opponents like Maradona once did, but instead sprinted in the 39th minute of the game, got the ball in the center circle, continued to sprint, always straight towards the goal.

Álvarez ignored better positioned teammates and ran straight into the Croatian defence.

He didn't go around his opponents, but he somehow muddled through, twice the ball came back to him from the opponent.

Álvarez wanted that goal with all his might - and he got it.

The result:

Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0 (2-0) and is in the World Cup final.

Here is the match report.

Like Lothar:

The semi-final against Croatia was Messi's 25th World Cup game.

He draws level with the previous record holder Lothar Matthäus, on Sunday Messi will overtake the former German captain.

Unless he injured himself, against Croatia he kept touching his left rear thigh.

It is not to be expected that Messi will miss the final because of a small muscle injury.

The problem solver:

Looking at the tournament so far, many experts expected a defensive battle.

And what can I say, they weren't disappointed for the first 30 minutes.

Both teams took little risk and were careful at the back.

Then a long ball from Enzo Fernández to Álvarez was enough - and Croatia was briefly confused.

Álvarez lobbed the ball past keeper Dominik Livaković and then rumbled into the tournament's best-ever goalkeeper.

Livaković received a yellow card and referee Daniele Orsato awarded a penalty.

Messi put the ball in place and nailed it into the top right corner (34').

His eleventh World Cup goal made him the sole Argentinian record holder - and put Croatia under pressure.

Heated only with the referee:

The Croatians raged after the penalty decision.

Mateo Kovačić complained and saw yellow.

The former Bundesliga striker and current assistant coach Mario Mandžukić probably didn't choose nice words, he complained so badly outside that he saw the red card.

The Croatians' fire was there – but they didn't bring that commitment to their game.

After Álvarez made it 2-0, the runners-up looked paralyzed and the Croatians didn't look like they would be able to get back into the game.

The other magician:

The semifinals were primarily seen as a big duel between Messi and Luka Modrić.

The five-time Champions League winner and world footballer of 2018 had once again carried his Croatians through the tournament, he also tried a lot against Argentina, toiled in the penalty area, slid across the pitch, straddling.

Only the offensive moments were missing for the great strategist, who left the field in the 81st minute.

With the game for third place, Modrić, one of the greats of world football, ended his World Cup career.

The dribbling:

Messi initiated the victory in the quarter-finals with a brilliant pass, a pass that probably nobody else in the whole world can play.

In the semi-finals, he initiated the preliminary decision with an unbelievable dribbling.

In the 69th minute he got the ball on the right flank.

Leipzig's Joško Gvardiol rushed to the Argentine - and was then presented in such a way that one has to hope that nobody forces the 20-year-old to watch this scene again.

Messi dribbled and dribbled, headed for the baseline, wobbled, Gvardiol completely lost his bearings.

Messi, 35, danced lightly, putting the ball back to Álvarez, who made it 3-0.

Argentina has never played as well as they did in the semi-finals at this World Cup.

Like Diego:

The biggest difference between Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi: one led Argentina to the world title, the other didn't.

Twice Messi resigned from the national team, twice he came back.

For a long time he had the flaw that he played in national dress with less effort and less elegance than in a club.

Those voices are silent.

For years he has been the leader of the team, takes responsibility, decides games.

Messi still needs one win, then he has finally won everything.

A final for Qatar:

It is quite possible that Argentina will meet France in the final, the world champions are favored against Morocco.

It would be a football treat.

But also a game in which Qatar's rulers laugh up their sleeves.

With Messi and France star Kylian Mbappé, the two figureheads of their state club Paris Saint-Germain would then face each other.

It would be exactly the publicity that Qatar hoped for from this World Cup, which is so controversial for many reasons.

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2022-12-13

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