PSG Duo Star As Messi Triumphs in World Cup 2022 Final

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Football fans the world over could not have wished for anything more than what they witnessed in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Final at the iconic Lusail stadium when a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina went toe-to-toe with a France team that had what many refer to as “the next big thing,” Kylian Mbappe, as the figurehead.

It was a battle between two Paris Saint Germain stars, deemed so because the two stars are the big hitters for their respective nations and play for the same club, PSG, in France’s Ligue 1.

Apart from what was at stake – a FIFA World Cup Trophy – there were two individual honors available that each of the two stars could take home—the top scorer award, and the player of the tournament award.
Coming into the final, the two were stark on five goals each, and both players had their eyes on the top scorer award as well as the Golden Ball.

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Also, there was the chance that anyone who successfully steered his nation to win the trophy could eventually end up taking home the individual award for the best player of the tournament.

So, the stage was set for the two to go toe-to-toe with each other.

Argentina’s Journey to World Cup 2022 Finals

World Cup 2022 Finals
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Argentina’s journey to the final was not all rosy as they didn’t start well but they ended up scoring some 12 goals on their way to the final.

They had a rough start, losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia, in their first group game.

The loss to Saudi Arabia made a lot of people revise their notes as they counted Argentina out of the reckoning for the title already.

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However, they soon recovered, handing defeats to Mexico and Poland with a 2-0 score line each to finish top in the group.

They would go on to hand a 2-1 defeat to a spirited Australia team in the R16 to set up a quarter-final duel with Luis Van Gaal’s Netherlands.

La Albiceleste defeated the Oranje on penalties in the emotionally heated match that saw the Oranje score twice in the final 8 minutes of normal time when substitute Wout Weghorst scored twice.
The game went into extra time and then to penalties.

Argentina triumphed, with Emiliano Martinez, in post for Argentina, the hero of the shoot-out, setting up Croatia for the semi-final.

READ ALSO: Why Messi wore Arabic black cloak before lifting the World Cup trophy explained

The semi-final against Croatia, a team that eliminated Brazil, was, on paper, a difficult match for Lionel Scolani’s men, but it turned out to be, arguably, the easiest match they played all tournament as they kept the Vatreni at bay with a 3-0 scoreline that surprised many.

Messi scored a penalty and assisted superstar Julian Alvarez to wrap things up.

The run to set up the Manchester City star by Lionel Messi is one you should see, as he turned over one of world football’s rising stars, Josko Gvadiol, before teeing up Alvarez to wrap it all up.

Messi and his teammates had already secured a place in the final, where they would face the winner of the other semi-final between Africans, Morocco, and Europeans, France.

The Atlas Lions of Morocco had defied all the odds to reach a World Cup semi-final, the only African nation, thus far, to have achieved such a feat at a World Cup tournament.

France’s Route To World Cup 2022 Finals

World Cup 2022
Mbappe’s five goals helped France to reach the finals

France’s route to the final was not easy either, but their opening day heroics, where they beat Australia 4-1, was a statement of intent that they were there to challenge for the retention of the title they won four years ago in Russia.

Previous winners did not have a good time in the next edition.

Italy (2010), Spain (2014), and Germany (2018) all suffered early eliminations after winning the previous editions in 2006, 2010, and 2014, respectively.

France did not want to join that league as the 2018 winners, and their opening game triumph was a statement of intent.

They would go on to beat and then lose to Denmark and Tunisia in their second and third-group matches, respectively.

They did top their group and that set them up against Poland in R16.
They dispatched the poles 3-1, with Mbappe starring yet again, scoring 2 goals.

In the last eight, France had their hands full when they came up against England, who had beaten Senegal 3-0 in their R16 match.

In the highly entertaining match that saw each nation firing from all angles, France became the victors with English captain Harry Kane missing a decisive penalty in the final 10 minutes of normal time.

In the semi-final, France were not at their usual best, but they did just enough to hold off African high-flyers Morocco, beating them 2-0.

And so, the final was set!

READ ALSO: TOP 5 best football African players at the World Cup 2022

Going into the finals, the two nations had won it twice each, Argentina winning in 1978 and in 1986.
France triumphed in 1998 and, most recently, in 2018.

For the two men – Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe – this was a significant final.

If Argentina triumphed here, Messi would match Mbappe’s feat of winning a World Cup, and Argentina would surpass France’s World Cup triumphs.

Tasked with the responsibility of ensuring a free flow of the game in the middle of the park was referee Szymon Marciniak from Poland.

Argentina did win it eventually, but it was not offered to them as they were made to sweat for it.
The tournament’s two star players gave commanding performances on the largest platform possible, capping an epic night of drama, high emotion, and swinging fortunes with one of the all-time great finals that football fans wanted to see.

Lionel Messi, playing his 26th World Cup match, which is a record as no player has played more World Cup matches than him, hit the first blow when he put Argentina ahead with a penalty that was won when Angel Di Maria got brought down in the box by Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele.

A scintillating move by the Argentines led to a fine Di Maria goal to put Argentina 2-0 up and, until the 80th minute, in charge of the epic final.

For the large part of 80 minutes, France were bereft of ideas as they could not manage a single shot on target with star man, Mbappe uncharacteristically anonymous.

Was the big stage weighing heavily on him?

Not quite.

He has played in and won one already.

He would come to the party eventually.

Mbappe scored an outstanding equalizer a minute just after he had converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute to send the game into overtime.

If you thought the two PSG stars were done with their heroics, there was more in store as the game headed for 30 more minutes to decide the winner.

Messi gave Argentina the lead once more in extra-time, but Kylian Mbappe equalized with another penalty, becoming the second player, after England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966, to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.

Into the galaxy of greats,” the commentator screamed as the equalizing penalty from Kylian Mbappe went into Emiliano Martinez’s net.

And so, the game went down to who had the nerves to score a penalty.

As a leader sets a good example for his followers, this is what the two star men of the respective nations did in the shoot-out.

Mbappe scored France’s first penalty, and Messi did just the same for Argentina.

Here too, the two PSG stars had canceled each other out.

Another PSG star, Kingsley Coman’s attempt, though, was stopped by the impressive Emiliano Martinez of Argentina, and Aurelien Tchouameni missed the target for France.

Just like in the 80 minutes before Kylian Mbappe took matters into his own hands, Argentina was firmly in charge of the penalty shoot-out.

Were they to let that slip as they did their two-goal lead?

They had better ideas this time.

Gonzalo Montiel, a substitute fullback who gave away the penalty for France’s third goal, was now given the opportunity for the ultimate atonement, which he duly accepted by calmly sending France’s captain, Hugo Lloris the wrong way.

That was the kick that sealed it for Argentina and Lionel Messi.

It meant that after his record-setting 26th World Cup game, at his fifth and probably final attempt, the 35-year-old Messi finally got the trophy his talent and dedication to his nation demanded.

World Cup 2022
Argentina are World Cup 2022 final winners

This elevated him to the same level as Diego Maradona, Argentina’s first football god, who led his country to their stirring second victory in 1986 after their first triumph in 1978.

The two individual awards on offer were shared between the PSG duo.

Mbappe’s hat-trick heroics on the night meant that he beat Messi to the 2022 World Cup Top Scorer award, finishing with 8 goals.

Messi’s brace on the night meant that he trailed his club teammate by a goal as he ended with 7 goals of his own.

Messi did win the Golden Ball, which is the award given to the best player of the tournament.

He also ended with the World Cup final Man of The Match award to cup his brilliant performance on the night.

Didn’t you enjoy that classic Lusail show by the PSG duo?

Argentina and Lionel Messi have ultimately been crowned World Cup 2022 champions.

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