Lionel Messi rescues Argentina against Netherlands


LUSAIL,QATAR – IF Lionel Messi To finally lift the World Cup, he’s doing it the hard way. Talent can only take you so far, especially if your team is as flawed as Messi’s ArgentinaBut fairy tale endings can still be far from perfect.

This can also happen with the last payoff line of Cristiano Ronaldo be on the other side portugal (should they emerge from the side of the bracket that includes France, England And Morocco) when it does. But put the brakes on the fantasy for now.

after 80 minutes of the quarterfinal Netherlands At Lusail Stadium, all those watching could be forgiven for getting carried away by the Messi story — that Qatar 2022 would end with the 35-year-old holding the biggest trophy he has yet to win.

Messi produced one of his best performances this World Cup – and it was magical – to power Lionel Scaloni’s team 2-0 up and enter the semi-finals against Croatia on Tuesday. Paris Saint Germain was made ahead Nahuel MolinaThe opening goal of the first half with a pass of sublime quality before doubling Argentina’s lead from the penalty spot on 73 minutes.

The closing phase should have been on cruise control, but wout weghorst Scored twice – an 83rd-minute header and then finishing off one of the best and cleverest free kicks you could ever see, 11 minutes into stoppage time, to draw the Dutch level. And that wasn’t in the script. The Messi story really shouldn’t have been turned into a nightmare by a giant centre-forward that Burnley signed last season to keep them in the Premier League. a task he failed to manage, scoring just twice in 20 games.

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Craig Burley can’t believe the Netherlands pulled off such an audacious free kick in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

But just as one of football’s brightest careers seemed destined to be derailed for a poor Dutch team by a journeyman striker ending their dream, the gods of the game turned their backs on Messi and Argentina as Copa America champions. showed his courage to win the penalty shootout. in which Messi scored the first a 4-3 win,

It ended a bad-tempered game by Argentina in front of their beaten opponents, with 11 Argentine bookings, two major confrontations between both sets of players and some provocative, fiery celebrations. But in this Argentina team, perhaps in Messi, there is so much emotion and desperation, so the ugly scenes in victory are understandable.

And when the dust settles, perhaps a win was just what Argentina needed in this World Cup, despite the negativity at the end. After all, football at the highest level should be about moments of imagination, about images that last a lifetime, and Messi’s stunning reverse pass to Molina was one of them.

Prior to Messi’s game-changing contribution, the Dutch were threatening to suffocate this encounter with their passive, risk-averse football. Coach Louis van Gaal has drawn criticism from the Dutch media for his tactical approach – one reporter told the Netherlands coach that watching his team was “gnashing teeth” – but it took them to the brink of a semi-final clash with Croatia (which was removed earlier Brazil on fine an equally memorable match), so Van Gaal cannot be criticized for trying to get the most out of a limited squad.

But imagine Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final between the Netherlands and Croatia, Messi watching from afar and Argentina and their unrelenting supporters back home still looking to end their 36-year wait for a third World Cup win. are waiting for. This World Cup doesn’t need that. It requires the Messi factor and his relentless quest for achievement that could elevate him to a Diego Maradona-like status in the hearts of Argentines.

It needs thousands of Argentine fans to fill stadiums with their color and noise, it needs a South American giant to chase down its first World Cup since Brazil in 2002, and it needs Messi to give the Netherlands an old No need to play football by manual. Said after the game of “long balls to tall players”.

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Shaka Hislop says it is “beyond him” how the referee allowed Leandro Paredes to stay on the field after kicking the ball into the Netherlands dugout.

But whatever Argentina do from this point on, Messi has at least given Molina the defining image on the field of Qatar 2022 with his pass. Messi’s feet no longer move as fast as his sharp mind. You can see this in the times he runs away from an opponent, rather than the way he once was at his absolute peak.

But Messi knows his limits and has changed his game to overcome them. A few years ago, when he entered the shooting range of a target, he’d put his foot on the gas and go for it, but on this occasion, he knew he couldn’t get past the packed Dutch defenses on his own. could. that’s why they left out the midfielder frankie de jong Running to the edge of the penalty area before spotting full-back Molina out of the corner of his eye and immediately releasing the defender with a reverse pass into the penalty area. virgil van dijk tried to foul Molina as he scored, but liverpool The defenders could not force the Argentine out of their way.

Messi jumped with joy along with his teammates. He cannot escape the shadow of Maradona, who almost single-handedly won the World Cup in 1986. But Messi’s pass was eerily similar to his great predecessor’s against Brazil in the 1990 tournament, when Maradona fended off a pack of defenders before playing on at a certain point. pass to Claudio Caniggia, who scored the game-winning run. view & compare Two visionaries pass by.

But while Messi’s brilliance was on display with that pass, so was his determination and tenacity as Argentina fought hard in extra time and showed nerves of steel when he took the first penalty in the shootout.

Messi is no longer what he used to be, but he showed against the Dutch that he can do everything he can to drag Argentina to glory – the good, the hard and the ugly. Whether in silk or steel, Messi is keeping his and Argentina’s hopes alive. And the World Cup is all the better for it.

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