Lionel Messi is one of the most decorated players when it comes to winning titles. The seven times Ballon D’Or winner has now added the ultimate and the most auspicious title, FIFA World Cup, to his huge trophy cabinet.
Messi missed the glittering prize with the nearest margins, after the defeat against Germany in the world cup final back in 2014 in Brazil. The Argentinian has multiple precious titles to his name but not having the honour of taking his national team to glory always pulled his legs in criticism.
However, in two years Messi has stolen the show on an international level. Having won Copa America for the first time, after three previous defeats in the finals, he also led Argentina to win the Finalissima against Italy and now the world cup.
Argentina pulled off a great start to the final in the Lusail Stadium against defending champions France. Argentina was leading by two goals against a nearly sleeping French side. Given a chance to start in the final, Angel Di Maria left everyone mesmerized by his absolute class of dribbling and passing. Di Maria won the first penalty of the game from which Messi scored the opening goal of the match. Result of a perfect counter-attacking move, Di Maria scored a goal and gave Argentina a two-goal lead in the final.
The turning point came in the 80th minute of the game when a penalty rewarded to France was successfully converted by Kylian Mbappe to blow some oxygen into France’s side. 97 seconds later, the ultimate climax shook the Argentinian fans with an equaliser from Mbappe.
The match went into extra time, with both teams scoring a goal. Messi scored his second goal of the game in the 108th minute of the game. Still, Argentina had to wait for the glory moment, as Messi's ultimate fantasy was halted by another Kylian Mbappe penalty-converted goal that equalised the score by 3-3. Towards the end of the extra-time, France had a wonderful chance in front of the goal, with Kolo Muani's shot saved by Martinez. Had not Emmi Martinez saved that shot from Kolo Muani, history would have been otherwise. The winner had to be decided on a penalty shoot-out.
It was the third final ever to be decided on penalties. Argentina was able to convert from every spot and went on to win the title by 4-2 on penalties. It is Argentina’s third world cup title after 36 years. Messi was presented with a black robe by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim as an honourary gesture before he was handed the golden prize by the FIFA president.
This has been the fairy tale end for Messi. A dream come true for him and many Argentinians. Argentina did it, Messi did it, and the world saw it but the great Maradonna could not live up to seeing his country become the champion of the world once more. The last time he witnessed, was himself being lifted by his people with the golden prize in his hands in 1986.
Apart from having managed a fairly applaudable, joyful, and successful biggest football tournament, the world cup in Qatar will reminisce many cherishable memories. Held in an unusual time of the calendar, with 200 billion dollars spent on its preparations, this world cup was the most expensive tournament of football ever to be held.
The world cup witnessed historic events as well. For the first time in the history of the tournament, an African nation made it to the semi-final. Morocco could not take third place against Croatia but the team made everyone proud with their remarkable run. Having topped their group, the African team won against the odds, defeating Spain and Portugal in the knock-out rounds.
The world cup witnessed many upsets and turnarounds throughout, One of the favourites of this tournament Brazil were knocked out by Croatia, who were the last tournament’s runner-up also.
Germany was eliminated from the group stage only for the second time consecutively, following the four times world champion defeat against Japan. It is notable to highlight the great impact the Saudi Arabian team made at the start of the world cup, being the only team that managed to defeat Argentina in this entire competition.
Lionel Messi grabbed the player of the tournament trophy for the second time. He was previously named the best player of the tournament back in 2014. Kylian Mbappe scored 8 goals in this competition which earned him the golden boot. Mbappe now has 12 goals in just two world cups -tied with the great Pele- owing to the fact he just celebrated his 24th birthday.