Wednesday, May 22, 2024

SPORTS | 13-12-2022 18:41

Messi revels in 'crazy' success as Albiceleste reach World Cup final

Albiceleste skipper Lionel Messi celebrates Argentina's 3-0 over Croatia and says the side is ready to bring the trophy home.

Albiceleste skipper Lionel Messi celebrated Argentina's 3-0 over Croatia and says the side is ready to bring the trophy home.

"This group is crazy, we did it," said the PSG superstar in a flash interview after the World Cup semi-final victory over Luka Modrić's Croatia at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

"A lot of things are going through my head, it's very exciting to see all this. As we said from the start, to see all these people, our family, during the whole World Cup, it is incredible what we've experienced. We're going for the last game [of the tournament], which is what we wanted," Argentina's legendary number 10 said in a TV interview after the match.

Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot to put Argentina 1-0 up, but his all-round game was masterful. The skipper, despite holding his hamstring at one point, performed excellently, masterfully assisting Julián Álvarez for the third goal against Croatia, who disappointed at the back.

With his strike, 'La Pulga' has now drawn level with France's Kylian Mbappé as the World Cup's current top scorer. Both are on five goals, putting Messi in touching distance of the golden boot.

"Even though we started off with a loss, we were confident that this group was going to pull it off. We asked people to trust us because we knew what we are. This group is crazy, we did it, we did it, we are going to play one more final," he said.

"We knew what we could do, we were confident," said the Paris Saint-Germain forward. "We knew we weren't the favourites but no-one gave us any presents – we deserved everything we've got."

Messi's fifth goal of the tournament means he overtakes Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's top goalscorer at World Cups – he now has 11 goals.

"Argentina are, once again, in the World Cup final. Enjoy it!" said Messi. "We've been through tough situations, other very good ones. Today we're experiencing something spectacular."

The Albiceleste, who finished second at the Brazil 2014 World Cup, will now enjoy an extra day's rest as they wait to see who their opponents will be. France face Morocco on Wednesday for the second place in the tournament's final. 

Messi, 35, dedicated the victory and qualification for the final to his family and the Argentine people.

"My family is the most important thing for me, the one that has always been with me. We've been through hard times, we've been through very good times, and today it's our turn to live a spectacular one, so let's enjoy it with them and with all the people who are in Argentina, which I have no doubt must be crazy right now too," he said.

Midfielder Rodrigo De Paul said Argentina's victory in the Copa América last year, when they beat Brazil 1-0 in the final in the hosts' Maracanã fortress, had given them the belief they could go all the way in Qatar.

Argentina were unbeaten in 36 matches before arriving in Doha.

"We had a lot of belief – we've just become champions of the Americas. This team showed what it was capable of," he said.

Álvarez, who began the tournament on the bench but has now scored four goals in four games, said the team deserved the win.

"In my family they must be going crazy, like the whole country I guess," he said.



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