Messi has given himself and Argentina another chance at the World Cup

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Al Dayen, Qatar — Lionel Messi led Argentina in the sixth World Cup final with a comfortable 3–0 semi-final victory above Croatia Tuesday at Lusail Stadium.

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Messi scores his fifth goal in Qatar after a first-half penalty Julian Alvarez was dropped by dominik livkovich Earlier, Álvarez made it 2–0 with a run and finish that started in his own half. Any doubts about Argentina’s participation in Sunday’s final against anyone France either Morocco fell asleep midway through the second half when Messi’s volley down the right was finished by Alvarez.

jump to: player ratings , Best/Worst Performers , Highlights and Notable Moments , postmatch quotes , key figures , upcoming fixtures


Swift response

1. Messi earns himself another chance at the World Cup trophy

Messi is collecting records in Qatar. The next thing on the list is the World Cup trophy.

On the night he joined Lothar Matthaus as joint record appearance makers in men’s World Cup history, he also scored his 11th World Cup goal to surpass Gabriel Batistuta for the most in Argentine history. It won’t matter, though, if he doesn’t end this tournament with a World Cup winner’s medal on his CV.

He has done his job by scoring in every knockout round so far to take Argentina to their sixth final, and now he has the chance to join the likes Pele And Diego Maradona is on the list of greats to have won the sport’s biggest prize. He has already built a career that puts him in the all-time debate with those players, but winning the World Cup would arguably take it to another level.

He’s not there yet, and as the only survivor of Argentina’s World Cup final loss Germany In 2014, he’ll know that close isn’t close enough. On Sunday, he will have the chance to win the one trophy that has so far eluded him.

His assist for Alvarez’s second goal, picking up the ball on the halfway line and squeezing past josco guardiol On the touchline, there was a timely reminder that even at 35, he is one of the best players in the world.

2. Messi nears end, but Alvarez just getting started

If Messi is ready to ride off into the sunset, possibly with the World Cup tucked under his arm, Alvarez already looks set to take his place.

Before the tournament started, there was no doubt Lautaro Martinez Will started as manager Lionel Scaloni’s first choice centre-forward, but Álvarez took the opportunity when he was presented with it. now Manchester City The forward is the main man next to Messi.

they had to wait until the third group game against poland to start, but since then, the 22-year-old has four goals in four games to make himself a surefire starter in Sunday’s World Cup final against France or Morocco. His goal against Croatia, running from his own half, would be replayed over and over again as one of Argentina’s great World Cup moments.

Alvarez has gone under the radar at City this season – mainly due to the uncanny form of Erling Haaland – but by thrusting onto football’s biggest stage in Qatar, he has shown how good he is even as he ages. The next question is: how good can he become? He would do well to get anywhere near Messi’s record, but as one forward prepares for his send-off, another is showing there is more to this Argentina squad than just his iconic No.10.

3. A step too far for Croatia’s second straight final

Croatia’s campaign in 2018 came to a halt when France scored four times in 65 minutes in the final. In Qatar, it was ended by Argentina scoring twice in five minutes.

His progress in this tournament has been built on holding back and keeping the ball in midfield – he only needed one shot on goal to force extra time. Brazil, A few minutes of chaos just before half time against Argentina was not part of the plan.

Coach Zlatko Dalic must wonder how a direct ball from the halfway line was enough to send Alvarez through before Dominik Livkovic was brought down for a penalty. He would be even more confused by how a Croatia corner ended with Alvarez running from his own half to score despite giving him both. josip juranovic And borna sosa Opportunities to clear the ball.

Croatia doesn’t score many goals. Admitting two lapses at such a crucial juncture of the game proved disastrous.

That shouldn’t detract from what they’ve accomplished at the World Cup — reaching two consecutive semi-finals is a remarkable feat for a country of less than 4 million — but they won’t make it a more uncomfortable night for Argentina.


Player Rating (1 = worst, 10 = best)

Argentina: Emiliano Martinez 7, Nahuel Molina 7, Nicolas Tagliafico 7, Nicolas Otamendi 7, christian romero 7, leandro paredes 7, rodrigo de paul 7, Alexis McAllister 7, enzo fernandez 7, Lionel Messi 8, Julian Alvarez 8

sub: Lisandro Martinez 7, Exequiel Palacios 6, paulo dybala 6, juan foyth 6, Angel Correa 6

Croatia: Dominic Livkovic 7, Josip Juranovic 4, Borna Sosa 3, dejan lauren 6, Josco Guardiol 6, Marcelo Brozovic 5, Mateo Kovacic 6, luka modric 6, mario pasalik 5, Ivan Perisic 6, Lady Kramrick 4

sub: Nikola Vlasic 6, Mislav Orsik 6, bruno petkovich 6, marco livaza 6, lovro major 6


best and worst performers

Best: Julian Alvarez, Argentina. Won a penalty for the first goal and scored the second with a run that started in his own half.

The Bad: Borna Sosa, Croatia. The Croatia left-back looked nervous early on and was one of the defenders who let Alvarez through for Argentina’s second goal.


Highlights and Notable Moments

More than Batistuta, more than Maradona. No Argentine player has scored more runs than Messi in the World Cup.

For Croatia, it looks likely to be the end of an era as the 37-year-old Modric walks off the field in international competition for what looks likely to be his last.


After the match: What the players and managers said

Messi: “I would say [defeat against Saudi Arabia] Was a tough blow as we were unbeaten in six matches. To start the World Cup like this, we didn’t expect to lose to Saudi Arabia. It was a tough test for the whole team but we proved how strong we are. We won the rest of the matches and what we did was very difficult. Every match was a final and we knew that if we didn’t win, things would get difficult for us.

“We have won five finals and I hope that is the case for Sunday’s final as well. We lost the first match because of the fine details but it helped us to come out stronger.”

Dalic on his future as Croatia manager: “My plan and my aim is to take Croatia to Euro 2024.”


Key Stats (Provided by ESPN Stats & Info)

Messi’s 11th career World Cup goal surpasses Batistuta for the most goals in Argentina men’s history.

At 35, Messi is the oldest person to score five goals in a World Cup.

Messi’s eighth go-ahead goal at the World Cup is the most in men’s World Cup history, breaking a tie with Paolo Rossi. Luis Suarez and Gerd Müller.

Messi has scored in each of Argentina’s knockout games in Qatar. He had not scored a knockout goal in any of his previous four World Cup appearances.

– At 22 years and 317 days old, Álvarez is the second youngest Argentine to score multiple World Cup knockout goals since Carlos Pucel in 1930.

– Alvarez’s second goal of the game brings him four goals this World Cup gonzalo higuain the most for any Argentine male player aged 22 or younger.

Messi has scored in three straight World Cup games, something he also did for Argentina in the 2014 final in Brazil. He is the first man since at least 1966 to have multiple three-game goal streaks in a World Cup.


next

Argentina: Albiceleste Advance to Sunday’s final, where they will face the winner of France vs. Morocco at 10am ET.

Croatia: Croatia will return to play in qualifying for Euro 2024 on 25 March, when they host wales,





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