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Argentina captain and six-time ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, has confirmed that Sunday’s World Cup final will be the final time we see him play in a World Cup match. Messi, who has played in five World Cups and scored eleven goals across each one, will be hoping that Sunday’s showdown with France will be the fairytale ending to his World Cup career.
After the victory over Croatia on Tuesday night, where the PSG star netted once and provided a sublime assist to Julien Alvarez, Messi was asked if Sunday would be his last at a World cup. He replied:
“Yes. Surely yes. There’s a lot of years until the next one and I don’t think I have it in me and finishing like this is best.
“I feel a lot of happiness to be able to achieve this. To finish my World Cup career playing my last game in a final. Everything I’ve lived in this World Cup, what people experienced and how much the people back in Argentina are enjoying it all is very emotional.
“I’m enjoying everything a lot, I feel strong to be able to face each match. We’ve come along making a lot of big sacrifices, like playing the extra time which wasn’t easy. We were tired but the group gave that little bit more, it was a very tough game which went the way we prepared for.”
A chance for redemption
The final against France will provide Messi and Argentina with the chance to redeem their defeat in the 2014 Final in Brazil. They had the better of the chances in the match against Germany but ultimately lost thanks to a 113th minute winner from Mario Götze.
Although Messi won the 2014’s Golden Ball, the accolade given to the tournament’s best player, he would gladly swap it for a World Cup winners medal this time around.
La Albiceleste arguably have a better team this time around, too. While in 2014 they had Lionel Messi at the peak of his powers, the defence and midfield don’t match up to the level of quality at Lionel Scaloni’s disposal.
With all that being said, Argentina do go into the game as slight underdogs. France have been imperious throughout the tournament, only dropping points when they rested the majority of their starting eleven in their final group game against Tunisia. If there is a man to topple this French dynasty, though, then it’s Lionel Messi.
Throughout his career, Messi has gone toe-to-toe with Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of not only the best player of his generation but also the best player the world has ever seen. Many people believe that a World Cup triumph for the Argentinian would close the debate for good and land Messi the title of Football’s greatest-ever player.
There is also the small matter of the Golden Ball and Golden Boot. Going into the match, both Messi and his PSG teammate, Kylian Mbappe, have five goals. Whoever comes out on top on Sunday may well end up with a winners medal, Golden Boot and Golden Ball treble. This could also go a long way to deciding the fate of the ballon d’Or next Autumn.
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