It is Lionel Messi’s world and we are all living in it.
Once again the little magician from Argentina weaved his magic as La Albiceleste knocked Croatia out of the FIFA World Cup 2022 to book a place in the finals of the tournament.
Messi led the way with a goal and an assist and was ably partnered by the young Julian Alvarez, who bagged two goals on the night to see Argentina through to the finals.
The 35-year-old superstar was named the Man of the Match after the game and spoke to the media where he once again confirmed that this will be his final World Cup.
“I am proud to be able to finish my World Cup journey playing this final. What I’m experiencing is exciting. Surely Sunday will be my last game in a World Cup. It will be many years before the next one and I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. So I hope I can finish in the best way,” he said (h/t MARCA).
Talking about Argentina’s run in the World Cup so far and the efforts they have had to put in, Messi said: “I’m enjoying it all very much. I feel good. I feel strong to face every game. We have been making a big sacrifice.
“The last game we played was with an extension that was not easy at all. We were tired, but the group got strength from where it doesn’t have to give an extra plus. We played a very serious game. We knew it was going to be the match it was.”
Messi also spoke about the preparations for the contest against Croatia, saying: “We prepared the match very well. We knew they were going to have the ball because they have good players in the middle, but we were going to have our chance because they get messy quickly.
We prepared very well for the match. I’m very happy. Throughout this World Cup, I’ve been having a lot of fun and, luckily, I was able to help the group to get things done.”
Messi was also full of praise for his teammates as well as the manager and the coaches, highlighting how the backroom staff pays attention to the smallest of the details.
“This group, beyond the group strength it has, is very intelligent. They know how to read the moments of the match. Scaloni had already said it,” Messi said.
“It is a very intelligent group, that knows how to suffer when they have to suffer, how to have the ball when they have to have it, when they have to press, to retreat, they know how to read the matches.”
“And we have a very good coaching staff that leaves nothing to chance, that lets you know every detail of every match and that is a great help for us. At no time did we feel lost on the pitch, we know what we have to do in every game,” he added
Argentina began their tournament on a disappointing note, as they suffered a shock loss to minnows Saudi Arabia, which brought an end to their 36-game unbeaten streak.
Messi insisted that it was a hard pill to swallow, but again highlighted the entire group’s mentality as they bounced back strongly from that loss to reach the finals.
“The first match was a very hard blow for us because we were coming from 36 matches without losing and to start the World Cup like this, with a rival that we thought we could win it, was a very hard test for us and for this group. But the group once again showed how strong it is, taking each game forward,” he said.
Signing off, the former Barcelona skipper said that Argentina’s five games in the tournament so far were all like finals and he hoped that they can win the big one this weekend.
“It’s very difficult what we did, because they were all finals, with the great wear and tear of playing every game as a final. We are aware that if we didn’t win it was complicated. We played five finals, we were able to win all five and hopefully, the next one will be like this.”