Sunday, February 5, 2023

Argentina-France: Messi goes for glory in the final gala

DOHA ( Associated Press) – The most fascinating World Cup in history has kept a blank page in reserve for a memorable end.

Argentina and defending champions France will decide the first World Cup title in the Middle East on Sunday at the Lusail Stadium, which hosted its games at the end of the year instead of the traditional June-July schedule to avoid the scorching heat.

It’s now or never for Argentine star Lionel Messi.

In the fifth and last World Cup of his career, the 35-year-old skipper showed the best version of himself on the big stage to lift the trophy and climb to a pedestal that will surely equal or surpass the legendary Diego Maradona.

The final would be his twenty-sixth match at the World Cup, setting a new record for appearances in the competition. He is also Argentina’s top scorer in the World Cup with 11 goals.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said, “Hopefully, if this is Leo’s last game, we can win the cup.” “It will be fantastic and the important thing is to enjoy it. And what better scenario than the World Final.”

Who can thwart Messi’s dream is Kylian Mbappe, his teammate at Paris Saint-Germain and the leader of a new era in world football after 15 years of domination by the Argentine ten and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 23-year-old striker is looking to emulate Pele as champion in his first two World Cups at almost the same age and with a third title in sight, a feat only achieved by the Brazilian star who is currently in hospital with a respiratory infection. is admitted in

There is a separate competition between Messi and Embappé for the Golden Boot in Qatar. He is the top scorer in the competition with five goals.

“Tomorrow’s game is Argentina against France, beyond Messi and Mbappe,” Scaloni insisted. “We both have the necessary weapons so that the game can be decided by the other players, not just the two of them.”

However, the strategist warned that “if Leo is well, let’s hope he falls on our side.”

Along the same lines, France believes that Argentina has more strengths than Messi.

France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris said, “I think this event is too important to focus on just one player.” “It is a final between two great footballing nations. Obviously, when you face a player like him (Messi) you need to pay special attention, but it is not just him.

“Argentina is a strong team and there are many other players, a young generation that is coming up, and you can feel that they are all dedicated to Leo Messi,” he said.

La Albiceleste, champions in 1978 and 1986, the latter inspired by Maradona, intends to end 20 years of European hegemony in the World Cup finals, in a dispute led by France.

Les Bleus, champions in 1998 and 2018 and finalists in 2006, are looking to become the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to have two consecutive Olympic returns.

“We prefer that they give the favorite to the other,” shot Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. “The favorite in Brazil was Brazil and today they call it France,” he said in reference to the 2021 Copa America final that saw Argentina win its first trophy in 28 years.

Beyond numbers and opinions, there is a reserved forecast in the final.

Argentina went 36 match unbeaten with a 2–1 loss to Saudi Arabia in the first match and then went on a five match winning streak.

With Messi on the same level as Maradona’s extraordinary version in Mexico 1986, Lionel Scaloni’s side also progressed in Qatar thanks to a goalscoring contribution from young striker Julián Álvarez, with four goals. The 22-year-old “spider” was not a starter before the World Cup, nor was 21-year-old midfielder Enzo Fernandez, giving another dynamic to the Argentine medium.

France, for their part, remained competitive despite the sensitive losses of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Karim Benzema to injury in the run-up to the tournament. And before the final, a flu virus affected several players, including Dayot Upamecano, Adrien Rabiot and Raphael Varane.

France coach Didier Deschamps said without elaborating, “We try to deal with it, doing whatever is necessary.”

Despite the setbacks, Deschamps discovered variants to guarantee his team’s competitiveness, with Antoine Griezmann transformed into a midfielder with the dual functions of creation and recovery. Midfielder Aurélien Tchoumeny and striker Olivier Giroud were also pillars, with four goals each in the campaign for the defending champions, beyond Mbappe’s pace down the left flank to break through defences.

The immediate precedent between the two teams was the round of 16 clash four years earlier, in which France emerged victorious 4–3.

Although there are many survivors from both sides, including Messi and Mbappe, Deschamps warned that Argentina “are not the same team, it makes no sense to compare this team with the team of four years ago. The formation is different, the game plan is different”. “

In the 88,000 stands of Lusail Stadium and millions of television viewers around the world, most will certainly be wishing for a happy ending at Messi’s final ceremony.

“They are close, we feel them, close, we feel local,” said goalkeeper Martínez.

But France and Mbappe, it is clear, will not be his luxury spectators.

Deschamps challenged, saying, “I’m fine alone in the world, it doesn’t bother me.” “I know that Argentina has a lot of support. There will be a lot of fans in the stadium … but our opponents are not the fans, but the team that we will face on the field of play”.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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