France stand between Messi and elusive World Cup winner

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring Argentina’s second goal against the Netherlands at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, December 9.Francisco Seco/AP

Until around 3:30AM ET on Tuesday, Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol had one of the best Decembers on Earth.

he walked in world cup as a relative unknown. But based on his performances in Qatar, at just 20 years old, Gwadiol has become the most coveted young defender in the world. Recent reports suggest his transfer could be worth as much as 100 million euros. Two Manchesters – City and Manchester United – are lining up to make him incredibly rich and famous.

This is a fairy tale. Until Lionel Messi decided to do whatever he wanted.

Lionel Messi lured Gwadiol to the goal line for Croatia towards the end of their semi-final against Argentina. Gvardiol is 6 feet tall and as wide as a bodyguard. Macy’s is about the size of an eighth grader. But once Messi put the Croatian on his hip, he turned him inside out, like he was folding a T-shirt.

It’s one of those moves that doesn’t make sense, even if you’ve seen it five or six times. You try to put your finger on the screen – ‘OK, he’s here. And here he is. And then he’s over there…”—it still can’t be counted.

The rest of the Croatian team had the same problem. They stood there with slack jaws watching Messi do it. This led to an easy goal for Argentina.

This is the purest expression of Messi’s talent. He not only wowed us all. He’s an amazing guy and they know they can’t just stand there stunned by him. but.

Argentine frolic. France also won on Wednesday (albeit less convincingly in a 2-0 win over Morocco). So it’s all marbles for Argentina vs. France on Sunday. After talking about all the World Cups you couldn’t predict, we’re coming up to the final that everyone saw.

Now that it’s almost over, we know what this World Cup will be remembered for.

This is not human rights, or protest, or corruption. It’s not France’s back-to-back attempts. This is not Morocco subverting the accepted order of things.

It’s Messi and whether he will get what the world expects of him. From child prodigies to teenage sensations to full-fledged geniuses to today’s biggest names. Now that we’ve got some perspective, it’s obvious that this was all designed to lead up to this.

For nearly 20 years, Messi’s greatest trick has been hiding in a place of greater concern than plain sight.

He is everywhere in Qatar. On billboards and tifosi, there is decoration behind every fan. The local World Cup broadcast had about five recurring commercials, and he was in them all.

But what do we know about Messi? What does he think? Where does he stand?

No one has any clues. Messi is a blank slate. For purposes of public consumption, he is not alone. He’s a combination of extraordinary ability, plus a lovely, sly smile.

In fact, Messi has given more than ever here. Footage of the intense quarter-final against the Dutchman was pored over. At one point, Messi berated Dutch coach Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal was a cheeky old sausage, known for his penchant for verbal contests. But when Messi scolded him – “You talk too much!” – Van Gaal looked confused. This is the look of a man who realizes his inadequacy. He angered the football gods.

Elsewhere, several Dutch players tried to reassure him by putting their arms around his shoulders. Messi roughly pushes them away. The disappointment of the Dutch is palpable. They realize they have to lose for the good of the story, but they want to remain friends.

In Messi’s semiotics, this World Cup is his dark moment. Argentina are known for their dirty tricks, but Messi is always on top. no longer. He’s no longer afraid to pitch fouls, chase refs or yell at opposing coaches. His desire overcame his equanimity.

The effect was not to make people like him less. They prefer this Messi – a human Messi.

That has helped him make the most of his impact over the past three games. When things go his way, Messi works with a different gravity than everyone around him.

It’s not enough for him to win the World Cup. Like Diego Maradona in 1986, he must dominate the World Cup.

Four weeks ago, this seemed impossible.Messi has been around for years Messi. exist Messi Not a function of stats, trophies or highlights.

It’s a way for other people in the game to talk about you. It’s not just about respect. This is awe.

That tone is back. One of the British post-match shows is Rio Ferdinand. Ferdinand was once the best defender in the world. He was asked how he would suggest stopping Messi.

“Except GBH [grievous bodily harm]I don’t know,” Ferdinand said.

Great line. But it’s not so much the tone as it is the tone—surprise and delight. People want Messi to be the greatest because playing him or seeing him puts them in the company of great players.

When Darwin came up with natural selection, there was no one in the room, but when Macy’s pretzel Gvardiol was there, there were probably 60,000 people in the room. And a billion more people can watch it happen on TV. That’s the beauty of sports. It puts the sublime within reach.

Messi must understand what is at stake now. If Argentina wins on Sunday, he is the greatest player in history.

It would be nice if he could control the game, but he doesn’t even need to. He’s done enough to make people believe it’s always been him. But Argentina has to win. Otherwise, it’s all in vain.

Knowing this, Messi decided to close all escape routes. Sunday will be his last World Cup appearance.

“It’s best that it ends this way,” Messi told an Argentine newspaper.

I don’t know which one is the best, but it’s certainly the most eye-catching.

Before this World Cup, you could already say Messi was the iconic athlete of our time.

Now, for his finale, he will define himself on the world’s biggest stage. No net will be used in this tightrope walk. If Messi goes down, it’s over. But if he doesn’t…

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