Fate calls Messi: Argentina beat Croatia 3-0, tickets for World Cup final

On a thrilling evening at the Lusail Stadium, gleaming in all its grandeur, Lionel Messi kept his World Cup winning destiny on track. He put in a penalty kick, came up with another two-goal for hero Julian Alvarez and produced an almost vintage show to beat the crowds that had gathered to watch him and guide his team to the final and Croatia 3- 0 to beat.

It’s everything the public wanted. Messi moments. And he fulfilled their wish several times. Not as striking as the assist for the third goal. He tore through the right side, through the edge of the touchline, slid past Mislav Orsic and turned him around. But Josko Gvardiol, in his spidery mask, clung to him as a child would a parent, giving him no room to shoot the pass, giving him no time and space to work or turn past him, and drove him away. But Messi kept his form against the muscles of a defender 20 years his junior. He dragged it into the penalty area, getting closer to the keeper, then stopped and turned, escaping from his clutches before cutting the ball back onto Julian Alvarez’s route. The latter just shot in from barely six meters. It was as if Messi was inclined to make an entire album of glorious assists at the World Cup. It was the moment that captured his relentless ambition. If fate doesn’t stop for me, I’ll stop for it.

Messi’s first moment came without any notice. He was largely silent until Dominik Livakovic dragged Julian Alvarez into the penalty area and the referee awarded the penalty. The sequence leading to the penalty kick itself was against the course of the game, at a time when Croatia appeared to be in better control of the game than Argentina. But then the diligent Enzo Fernandez displaced Luka Modric and put a glorious ball in Alvarez’s path, which was grounded as he tried to round off Livakovic. You could say his chip was wayward before Livakovic put his arms on him. Never mind, all that mattered was that Argentina got a penalty and Messi would take it.

The moments when he waited for the whistle, quiet and calm, passed like an eternity. Everything seemed to move in slow motion, his two-step walk and left foot swing, wrapping the foot over the ball and propelling the ball into Livakovic’s top left corner. You may have watched this a thousand times, same routine, same moves, same destination. But you could watch it a hundred times. Same goal, same movements, same destination. Nothing gets gritty in the Messi album.

For the first time in the tournament, Croatia looked utterly upset, suddenly caught. They may have felt that the whole world was conspiring against them. Barely five minutes later, Argentina doubled their lead and created an exciting atmosphere in the magnificent Lusail. Alvarez was the spark again. Carrying the ball from mid-ground, where Messi lay begging for a foul on him, he weaved and spun past three Croatian shirts and pushed it out of Livakovic’s reach all on his own. A solo so lavish that it would soon become one of the cult goals in Argentina. Feeding on the energy, Argentina buzzed, they almost scored third, but Josko Gvardiol blocked Alexis Mac Allister’s header, and Messi had a devilish little run-in to the right on the stroke of first half stoppage time, rolling back the years, balancing the ball like a master juggler. In the frenzy of the moment, Messi might have felt younger.

Like several other Argentines, Alvarez has blossomed this World Cup. Not that precious talents were hidden from the football world – he starts for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – but he showed that the biggest podium in the world wouldn’t wear him down. A more mobile and space-conscious striker than Lautaro Martinez, whom Lionel Scaloni had favored for his directness, the Croatian defenders sweated to follow him. Although Messi was the second of the two forwards on the tactical sheet, they often formed a 4-2-3-1, with Alvarez at the centre.

Messi, as is typical of his recent years, was largely unmoved up to that point. He hung around in the inner right channel, his brain constantly searching for a defense-unlocking move, his feet fretting for the ball. He was like a teacher who watched the students at play and intervened when he felt he had to step in, guide and care for them. Enzo Fernandez almost found him with a curled pass from the left, but Messi stepped over Josko Gvardiol and tripped over. The crowd was cheering in anticipation of a free kick at the penalty area, Messi threw up his hands. But the referee was unmoved and duly booed. Messi would then fall back a bit deeper, mainly to distract Marcelo Brozovic, the guard of the Croatian fortress. There was a time when they held their breath in pain when they saw Messi grab his thigh and walk unsteadily. But that was only a passing concern when he got back together. It seemed like there were two parallel games, Messi against Croatia and Argentina against Croatia. Two pairs of eyes didn’t seem enough.

In the second half, Croatia invariably made the substitutions and showed more fighting spirit offensively. A couple of free kicks in the first 15 minutes of the half promised a tasty game, Emi Martinez had to stretch to avoid a header, but their persistence soon faded and Argentina looked the most likely side to extend the lead and they did. as the public wanted it. By Messi against.

The blissful Lusail Stadium was a burst of color and emotion as kick-off time approached. Most ubiquitous were the blue and white stripes of Argentina, with the number and name of you know who. Messi was everywhere like miniature face pictures on faces, on shirts, banners, in heart and soul. It’s become routine: the eyes of the world converge on the five-foot frame wherever he plays, whenever he plays. No one has stopped the world as much as Messi in the last two weeks, as if the real purpose of the tournament was to give Messi a flawless farewell. Somewhere lurked the fear that his last wish would go unfulfilled, but the sight of Messi would pacify all those people, as if they were in the midst of a miracle worker, a soul healer, who soaks all fears and brings peace.

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Between the Argentinian flags and shirts, the bright red and white of Croatia stood out, as if the paint had peeled off the wall, revealing the old colors. But they made up for the lack of songs with passion and noise, though they were invariably drowned out by the aural hemorrhaging Argentinian fans inflicted. And how they were rewarded.

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