He’s finally done it, the magician from Rosario, Argentina has his hands on the coveted FIFA World Cup. Lionel Messi, one of the all time greats of football, has secured the only but the most important missing trophy from his cabinet.
Under the management of Scaloni, Messi & co have led Argentina to their third World Cup, after previously winning it in 1978, and 1986. But how did they get to this? Was the journey smooth and easy? You bet not!
In this blog, we will be analyzing Messi & Argentina’s route to the World Cup 2022 title, and what was so special about their team. So if you are a Messi fan or not, this blog has something you will not want to miss out on.
Argentina entered the World Cup being unbeaten in their previous 36 matches. Their opening game of the tournament was against Saudi Arabia, a team which no one thought could give any challenge to Argentina.
After getting an early lead by none other than Messi, Argentina looked like they had the three points in the bag at half-time. But then came the second half, which totally shocked the world. The Saudi’s made a remarkable comeback by scoring two goals, and went on to win the game 2-1.
The Aregentinians who were declared as the favorites to win the tournament by many couldn’t believe what just happened. But from that point, there was no looking back.
Argentina went on to cement their spot in the Round of 16, by winning 2-0 against both Mexico and Poland. Two men who played big parts in their qualification from the group stage were Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez.
Up next, Australia was waiting for them in the Round of 16.
Round Of 16
Argentina reached the knockout stages with a mixed bag of results, having one loss and two wins. Their opponents Australia meanwhile reached here by causing a huge upset as they defeated a much superior Denmark side.
The Aussies had put on an inspiring show, but Argentina were still favorites, and they did not disappoint. The two men who carried Argentina in the group stages once again stepped up. Messi scored in the first half and Alvarez doubled the lead by scoring in the second.
Argentina were put under some pressure in the dying minutes of the match as Enzo Fernandez scored an own goal. But the Argentinian defence stood strong and saw the game out, making their way to the final 8.
In the quarter finals, they were drawn against an in form Netherlands, a battle which many looked forward to.
Louis van Gaal’s orange army was prepared to take on the mighty Argentinians. Netherlands reached the quarters topping Group A, and cruising past USA 3-1. They were undefeated till this point. But Argentina was hell bent on changing this.
The game began and once again Messi stepped up by providing a beautiful assist to Molina who gave Argentina the lead. In the second half, Messi was again relied upon as he was to take a penalty, which he of course scored.
Argentina were leading the game with a comfortable two goal cushion. 82 minutes had gone by and the doors of the semi-finals didn’t look much far away.
But Oranje had other plans in mind. A double whammy from Wout Weghorst confirmed that the tie wasn’t over in normal time.
Argentina were once again stunned. The nightmares of Saudi Arabia were on the loom as extra-time began. A nervy 30 minutes passed by but neither team could find the winner. The spot for semi-finals was to be decided by penalties.
The penalty shootout went down to the wire, and Argentina came out on top by winning it 4-3. The game was as exciting as it could be, and will surely go down into the history books.
Only four teams were now left in the tournament, and Croatia was the next hurdle in Argentina’s road to World Cup glory.
Aiming to reach the World Cup for consecutive times, Croatia were geared up for the tie. Croatia were largely underrated throughout the tournament and remained one of the dark horses. Luka Modric & co had once again proved their critics wrong, and made their way to the semis.
Argentina approached this match having never been eliminated from this stage in the history of the tournament, and they made sure to continue this tradition. Two goals in the first half and one in the second, saw Argentina making their way to the finals by winning the game 3-0.
Once again, Messi and Alvarez were the duo involved in all of Argentina’s goals. As for Croatia, the defeat was disappointing, but they had some saving grace as they went on to defeat Morocco in the tie for third place, and finished the tournament with a Bronze medal.
The only team left standing in Argentina’s path to success was reigning World Cup champions, France.
Two players who had constantly made a name for themselves in this World Cup were PSG teammates, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. Both had five goals to their name before the finals, and apart from having their eyes on the World Cup trophy, they both also had aim to win the Golden Boot.
The epic finale took place at Lusail Iconic Stadium, Qatar, with a crowd of 88,966 spectators, and millions of people watching it around the globe. The stage was set for the two footballing giants.
Argentina once again began the game strong by taking an early lead through a Lionel Messi penalty, and a second goal from Angel Di Maria. The men in light blue were dominating the tie throughout, having more possession, and better game control.
But they only had one problem: Kylian Mbappe. As merely 10 minutes were left, the finale saw some magic which is hard to replicate again. Mbappe scored a goal in the 80th minute, followed by another in the 81st! The comeback was on as the game ended 2-2 in normal time.
This wasn’t the first, or even the second, but the third time in this tournament that Argentina was witnessing this sort of a resurgence against them. No one saw this coming. And this time, it was done single handedly by the world’s best young player, Kylian Mbappe.
As extra-time began, yet again Messi scored, giving Argentina the lead and reigniting the dreams of Argentina winning the World Cup. But as fate had it, his club teammate Mbappe came back with another goal, this time from the spot, which completed his hat-trick, and made sure that the finals went to a penalty shootout.
In the penalties, the French crumbled, missing two penalties out of four, whereas the Argentinians really stepped up, scoring all four penalties. The game was decided.
Argentina were the World Cup champions.
Even if someone tried, they couldn’t have written a more thrilling finale than this. The game had it all, beautiful goals, inspiring comeback, and a thrilling penalty shootout.
For Messi who was playing his last World Cup, it was the perfect way to bid farewell to this tournament. Not only did Messi win the World Cup, he was also crowned with the Golden Ball, which is given to the best player of the tournament.
Messi finished the World Cup with a massive 10 goal contribution, having 7 goals and 3 Assists. For him and all of his fans, it was the dream World Cup. And whether you like him or not, you can agree that Messi surely deserved this title!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many teams played the FIFA World Cup 2022?
32 teams played the FIFA World Cup 2022.
2. Who was Argentina’s captain in the FIFA World Cup 2022?
Lionel Messi was Argentina’s captain in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
3. Who won the Golden Boot in the FIFA World Cup 2022?
With 8 goals, France’s Kylian Mbappe won the Golden Boot in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
4. How many World Cups does Messi have?
Messi won his first ever World Cup in the 2022 edition, and now has one to his name.