Whole Messi, injured Messi, Messi from set pieces, Messi unstoppable, always Messi.
The 10 is the universal player in Qatar.
The different versions of the Albiceleste captain were appreciated and enjoyed in his memorable match against Croatia.
The most Argentinean
Messi has appeared
in his fifth World Cup.
The greatest player appears in one of the biggest matches to summarize a career that began 35 years ago in Rosario.
There is a Messi who walks, observes and diagnoses the game, an intelligent player and, nevertheless, watched, as if he wanted to detect signs of old age, to see who can announce beforehand that his end is near in Paris, Miami or Barcelona.
And there is also a Messi who from time to time touches his leg, makes a face of annoyance rather than pain and makes him fear for his health and whom, however, the coach does not dare to change, not even with a 2- 0.
Messi, however, endures, wakes up and denies all those who gossip during the halftime of the match, to claim that he is not facing his last game and it is not even known if he is not even facing his last World Cup.
Today he is a footballer without end who plays with the wisdom of a veteran and the illusion of a youth, more liberated and confident than ever, leader and captain of the Albiceleste.
The national team has been infected with Messi's confidence and authority.
To his virtuous game, the 10 added an irreducible character since he won the Copa América in 2021.
He has not only taken over from Maradona, but he evokes him at every appointment with his game and attitude without ceasing to be Messi.
This was confirmed in the 3-0.
Messi chose the best defender of the tournament, the center-back Gvardiol, for a poignant one-on-one due to how he changed pace, then set and dribbled past the Croatian center-back at the end to assist Julián Álvarez.
The game of the World Cup.
Some remembered the goal against Getafe.
There were also those who relived the Cup final against Athletic at the Camp Nou.
He has not stopped being an artistic Messi and also generous because by then Croatia was already exhausted and the fans suffered because they saw the 10 that touched his hamstrings, they knew of his soleus ailment and they feared for his fall on the way to the final of the World Cup.
Messi ended up hugging Scaloni.
The difference is that a Messi as motivated as the one from Qatar had not been seen for a long time.
It is not about winning one more title, but about reaching the Cup. And the man from Rosario enjoys it, he feels comfortable with the team that the coach has put together around him, young players who admire him, and he identifies with Argentina.
Messi combines passion with the concentration with which he executed the penalties against Australia, the Netherlands and Croatia.
He has scored in the round of 16 against Australia, repeated in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands and scored in the semifinals against Croatia.
He had never been so reliable in World Cup elimination matches.
Although in South Africa 2010 he fell to zero, in Qatar he surpassed the record for top Argentine scorer that he shared with Batistuta (11, against 10).
He already has five goals, three from penalties, and in the only game that he did not score, he missed a maximum penalty against Poland.
He was never a specialist from 11 meters, and yet now he seems infallible due to the determination and variety with which he shoots on goal, even when the goalkeeper is Livakovic, one of the best in the World Cup.
He already has as many World Cup assists as Maradona (eight) and has equaled Matthäus in the number of games played (25).
Now, after Modric's Croatia, he still has to play the final against Morocco or Mbappé's France.
That 3-0 in favor of Croatia in the last World Cup in Russia 2018 has given way to 3-0 for Argentina, who never lost a World Cup semifinal and now aspires to win the third Cup with the goals of Araña Álvarez, the striker of River who makes a career in the City of Haaland and Guardiola, and the game of Messi, sometimes selective, sometimes omnipresent, always decisive for the luck of the Albiceleste.
Messi has turned the pressure and emotional charge of his entire country into fuel for his run to win the World Cup.
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