World Cup – The Croatia-Argentina cheat sheet: Eternity is only getting closer for Lionel Messi

World Cup – The Croatia-Argentina cheat sheet: Eternity is only getting closer for Lionel Messi

The game: Argentina adapted to Croatia

We cannot blame Lionel Scaloni for not preparing for his meetings. For the third time in this World Cup, the Argentine coach has changed his system by switching to 4-4-2 with Leandro Paredes in particular in midfield. Result: where Croatia had reigned in this crucial area against Brazil, they found themselves asphyxiated against the Albiceleste. For the rest, it was not a top game, despite the thinnings of Modric and Messi. But Scaloni’s troop had the merit of having a defensive solidity that the Croats lost at the worst of times. But where the match is played, it is perhaps on the presence of a particular player.

The players: Messi always more on a mission

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The genius of Messi, the standing ovation for Modric: The highs and lows


There was his goal against Getafe, his dive on Manuel Almunia, his header against Manchester United and so many others. But, this Tuesday, Lionel Messi added a striking new image to his bloated collection. His goal from the penalty spot to open the scoring was eclipsed by this number in the 69th minute, against one of the best defenders of this World Cup: a run of more than 40 meters with incessant changes of support and a luminous decisive pass for Julian Alvarez. On a mission and divinely good.

The other big guy is called Julian Alvarez, author of a double and a more than complete match. At 22, he is the perfect lieutenant of the Pulga. Croatian side, on the other hand, it was the soup with the grimace behind. Between the misalignment of Dejan Lovren, the catastrophic matches of Sosa and Juranovic and the penalty conceded by Livakovic, the defense sank. As for Gvardiol, he will forever remember his reunion with Messi…

The X factor: The Argentinian penalty

All it took was a misalignment from Lovren to provide the first real situation of this game. Launched against Livakovic, Alvarez tried a small dive ball to deceive the Croatian goalkeeper. His gesture, too timid, was ineffective, the ball being stopped by Lovren. But the young striker hit the Croatian goalkeeper after his recovery. The shock is tough but the ball was already elsewhere. Daniel Orsato still whistles the penalty. And launches the Albiceleste towards his recital.

Julián Alvarez before the contact on Livakovic

Credit: Getty Images

The stats: 25, 11 and 2

Sacred evening for Messi. Starting the match, the Pulga equaled Löthar Matthaus’ record of matches played in the World Cup. To celebrate, he scored his 11th goal, surpassing Batistuta’s tally in the competition (11) and closing in on Pele’s tally. And, as a bonus, he is qualified for his second World Cup final.

The tweet: he returns there

The photo that makes you sad

If the Mondial keeps a legend, it loses another. Defeated in the semi-finals, Luka Modric leaves the most beautiful of scenes.

Luka Modric in tears after elimination against Argentina

Credit: Getty Images

The statement: Lionel Messi (Argentina) on Argentina’s struggle after inaugural loss

What we did was difficult, because every match was a final. We played five finals, we won five. Hopefully this will be the case for the next…

The question: Is this their destiny?

It’s so big that it’s finally beautiful. By announcing that this edition in Qatar would be his last World Cup, Lionel Messi had put excessive pressure on his people. His last dance would therefore be his last chance. This Albiceleste was almost swallowed up by the weight inherent in such a mission. And then the Mexican rocker changed the face of this team.

Since then, she has never ceased to be miraculous, until this finally immaculate semi-final. Lionel Messi has something to do with it, of course. But Scaloni’s choices have also changed the face of this team. The Argentinian World only started when Fernandez and Alvarez became essential pieces. He was also enhanced by the tactical intuitions of the Argentine coach, able to adapt his system according to the challenges offered.

It’s so big that it’s finally beautiful. Lionel Messi’s dream is still alive. Even more than ever. The positive signals are multiplying around this Albiceleste. His destiny, whatever happens, will be decided in Lusail. Against France or Morocco. But especially with eternity facing them, facing him. The ultimate challenge. Perhaps the hardest of his entire career.

The maradonization of Messi: “He is a blood leader, as Argentina likes them”

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Argentina and Messi back in the final, waiting for France or Morocco


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They go back