LUSAIL, Qatar — If Lionel Messi is to finally take home the trophy of the World Cup, he is doing it in a difficult way. The power of genius can only take you up to a point, particularly in the case of a team not as flawless as Messi’s Argentina however, the fairytale story could still be the best one to end with.
It may even occur with the ultimate payoff line Cristiano Ronaldo ultimately being on the opposite side of Portugal (should they be on the the bracket that comprises France, England and Morocco) in the event that it happens. But let’s slow down on this fantasy at least for now.
After the 80-minute quarterfinal match against the Netherlands at Lusail Stadium, the entire crowd could have been excused to get caught up in the Messi storyline – that Qatar 2022 will end with the 35-year-old putting his hands on the biggest trophy he’s yet take home.
Messi was able to produce his finest performance at this World Cup — and it was awe-inspiring to put Lionel Scaloni’s side in a 2-0 lead and appear to be in a good position to play in the semifinals in the final against Croatia this Tuesday. He was Paris Saint-Germain forward had created Nahuel Molina’s goal in the first-half by delivering a ball of superb quality, before scoring Argentina’s second goal by scoring from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute.
The final stages of the game could have been under the go But Wout Weghorst scored twice -first with an 83rd-minute header, and then a second goal one of the most innovative free kicks you’re likely to see, eleven minutes into stoppage time to bring the game back to Dutch goalkeeper to a level. It wasn’t even mentioned in the playbook. The story of Messi’s should not be transformed into a disaster by the massive centre-forward recruited by Burnley to stay with them on the Premier League last season. He was not able to complete, scoring just two goals in the 20 games he played.
Just as one of football’s greatest impressive careers was about to end in a stalemate by a mediocre striker for an unlucky Dutch team then the gods of sport switched to Messi and Argentina’s team when the Copa America champions held their determination to prevail in the penalty shootout. Messi scoring the winning goal in a 4-3 victory.
It was a violent game that saw eleven Argentina bookings, two massive fights between the two teams of players, and some rousing, goading celebrations towards the end of the game by Argentina in front of their defeated team. However, there’s a lot of passion and despair in the Argentina team, perhaps in Messi and his teammates, that the sour scenes during the victory might be a bit understandable.
After the dust settles it could be that it will be a sign that this World Cup needed an Argentina victory, despite the negative comments in the final. In the end football at its top level is about moments of pure fantasy, of memories that will last for a lifetime, and Messi provided one by delivering a incredible reverse strike to Molina.
Before Messi’s game-changing impact prior to Messi’s game-changing contribution, the Dutch were looking to stop the game with their stoic, cautious football. The coach Louis van Gaal has bristled at criticisms of his tactical strategy in the Dutch media. One reporter had told his Netherlands head coach, that watching the team’s performance was similar to “grinding teeth” but it was taking them to the edge of a semi-final match against Croatia (who earlier defeated Brazil with penalties in a match that was equally memorable) So van Gaal cannot be criticised for his efforts to extract maximum value from his team.
But imagine an World Cup semifinal between the Netherlands and Croatia on Tuesday including Messi in the stands, and Argentina and their amazing fans at home, waiting for the 36-year wait for their third World Cup triumph. This is not the kind of thing this World Cup needs. It requires the Messi factor as well as his constant determination to achieve the goal that will give him the same level of status as Diego Maradona in Argentine hearts.
The country needs its tens of thousands of fans to fill stadiums their energy and colour and it requires an South American giant to chase the first World Cup since Brazil in 2002. It isn’t necessary for players from the Netherlands playing football from an old manual like Messi declared after the game of “long balls for big players.”
Whatever Argentina decide to do from now to the present, Messi has at least provided us with the most iconic on-field image of Qatar 2022 by delivering his pass to Molina. Messi’s legs aren’t moving at the speed of his brilliant brain. You can tell this often when he walks away from a player with the slightest swerve or feint instead of the explosive speed he was able to achieve in his peak.
However, Messi is aware of his limitations and has altered his approach to get over these limitations. In the past when he was in the goal’s shooting area, Messi would step on the pedal and push the ball but in this instance he was aware that it was impossible to break through the crowded Dutch defense by himself. Therefore, he took the midfielder Frenkie de Jong behind by sprinting across the the penalty box before seeing full-back Molina from the corner of his eyes and immediately let him go by releasing the defender with a reversed pass into the area of penalty. Virgil van Dijk attempted to hit Molina at the same time he fired at the goal however the Liverpool defender was unable to knock the Argentina off of his foot.
Messi was erupting with joy along and with the rest of his team. He’s not able to escape his shadow Maradona who won his World Cup almost single-handedly in 1986. The pass he made by Messi was identical to the one of his great predecessor in the game against Brazil in the 1990 World Cup that was played in 1990, when Maradona stood up to a group of defenders before making an exact pass to Claudio Caniggia, who scored to win the match. Go through the video and then compare the two brilliant passes.
The brilliance of Messi was displayed with this pass, so was his determination and determination when Argentina endured extra-time in the final minutes and when he displayed determination to win the penalty that was the first in the shootout.
Messi may not be the player he once was however he proved to the Dutch that he is capable of doing anything to bring Argentina towards glory. best hard, the tough and the ugly. Whatever the method, whether it’s steel or silk, Messi is keeping his and the hopes of Argentina alive. and the World Cup is so much better because of it.