For many, Messi’s career will also be defined by whether or not, at the age of 35, he will finally be able to lead his team to the trophy of football’s epic that will set his career on fire.
It’s now or never for Argentine superstar Lionel Messi. When Argentina take on France in the FIFA World Cup final here on Sunday, it will also be decided whether Messi will finally join the ranks of Pele and Diego Maradona as the game’s greatest players. For many, Messi’s career will also be defined by whether or not, at the age of 35, he will finally be able to lead his team to the trophy of football’s epic that will set his career on fire.
But standing in their way is no weakling but defending champions France and their star footballer Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe is in a very good position to have an edge over Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as football greats. Mbappe is on course to create history in the match at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium. The 23-year-old France forward is looking to emulate Pelé by winning his first two World Cups and creating the prospect of a third title, a feat only the Brazilian great has to his name during the 2022 tournament. Was admitted to the hospital.
Mbappe was 19 when he led France to a second World Cup title in 2018 and became the youngest player to score in a final since 17-year-old Pelé in 1958. Pelé missed Brazil’s 1962 World Cup victory in the knockout stages due to injury, but Mbappe remained a key player for France from the start of the tournament. In fact, he is tied with Messi as the top goalscorer with five goals.
The final will decide who wins the ‘Golden Boot’ award. France, on the other hand, is trying to become the first team since Brazil (in 1962) to win back-to-back World Cup trophies. The team that has produced players like Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and now Mbappe has reached the final for the fourth time in the last seven World Cups, more than any other team. Coach Didier Deschamps was a World Cup winner in 1998 as a player and is now campaigning to win the title for the second consecutive time as a coach.
Vittorio Pozzo was the only other coach to lead Italy to two consecutive titles, in 1934 and 1938. Like France, Argentina is seeking a third World Cup title (after 1978 and 1986) to move up to fourth on the all-time list. If this happens, the team’s 36-year wait will end after Maradona’s 1986 performance in Mexico. That victory made Maradona forever a ‘hero’ in Argentina and an ‘icon’ of the football world.
Messi now looks to equal that level, whether he wins or loses in his record 26th World Cup match on Sunday. Messi is being compared to Maradona for the way he led Argentina to the final. Messi scored five goals and assisted three goals, enthralling fans of his team, which appeared in abundance in matches throughout the World Cup in Qatar. Looking at which it seems that this match will be like a home match for Argentina but the number of supporters of France will not be less.
But it’s hard to pick a winner. The French team has immense experience and has the ability to win despite not playing their best game. Deschamps kept France’s performance high despite the exits of key players such as Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Karim Benzema ahead of the tournament. France’s defense is very good. The team will try to keep Messi away, so Argentina will want to keep Mbappe tight.
Argentina coach Leonel Scaloni is likely to pick the central midfielder quartet from their 3-0 win over Croatia in the semi-finals. They would like to pass the ball to Messi from all sides so that he can show his magic. Or Julian Alvarez, who started the tournament as ‘backup’ in an incredible 1-2 defeat to Saudi Arabia and has already cemented his place in the starting XI with four goals. Eight years ago, Messi won the ‘Golden Boot’ award for the best player of the tournament in the 2014 final in a 0-1 loss to Germany. This time he would certainly like to lift the trophy made of 18-karat gold instead to end his career like no one else has.
Disclaimer:Prabhasakshi has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.