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Messi carries the weight of Argentina into WC final

2022 Dec 16, 8:37, Qatar
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates at the end of the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. (AP Photo)

As Lionel Messi approaches his second and likely last World Cup final, the stakes could hardly be higher.

The same goes for Argentina after more than 30 years of disappointment since it last won soccer’s ultimate prize.

For Messi, victory against France at Lusail Stadium on Sunday is a chance to finally get his hands on the one major trophy that has eluded him in his storied career.

In doing so, he would push ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has also never won a World Cup, in the long-running rivalry between the two greatest players of their generation.

While 37-year-old Ronaldo exited the tournament at the quarterfinals stage, benched by Portugal and in tears in the likely recognition that his last chance had passed, Messi is summoning some of his finest moments in an Argentina shirt to inspire his country’s run to the final.

“Each time we see him play, he makes us and the players feel something special,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said. “There’s something about him that people like, not only Argentines.

“We feel lucky and privileged to have him wear our shirt.”

Messi’s place alongside Diego Maradona as one of Argentina’s two most iconic soccer stars has been secure for some time now. But he is yet to emulate Maradona’s greatest achievement by leading his national team to a World Cup title.


Lionel Messi Argentina Lusail stadium World Cup
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