Messi’s triumph in the World Cup consolidates the sporting legacy of Qatar 2022

LUSAIL, Qatar — Turns out you can buy football history. Since its inception, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been blighted by corruption allegations and the controversy off the pitch, however, culminated on Sunday in a masterpiece that makes a powerful case for being the greatest final of all time.

It really could not have been better written for the host nation. The two adoptive sons of Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi Y kylian mbappethey were at the epicenter of a pulsating, breathless 120 minutes that came and went and ended with the former cementing his legacy as the greatest footballer ever.

If there was one game that clouded the conversation about whether the World Cup should have been hosted here, then this was it. Usually the stakes are high in a performance-inhibiting World Cup final, but even within that stifling context, the talk of Messi and Mbappe had reached such impossible levels that it seemed inevitable that the game would collapse under the weight of its own narrative.

Somehow, it exceeded all expectations.

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“The game was crazy,” Argentine manager Lionel Scaloni said after the game.

Argentina was brilliant, then inhibited. France was lifeless, then electric. Angel Di Maria was excellent. The 2-0 score in favor of the Albiceleste it became 2-2 in an instant as The Blues he awoke from his 70-minute slumber and came to life with two goals in 97 seconds, the second a wonderful snapshot of the devastation Mbappe’s rare mix of technical prowess and athleticism can wreak.

This was the past and the future fighting for the present before our very eyes. Messi, now 35 years old and in his last World Cup game, scored his seventh goal of these finals in a match played at astonishing intensity that went on mercilessly, absorbing until extra time.

Advantage Argentina, again. However, France responded. Mbappé showed amazing composure to equalize from the penalty spot with 118 minutes left on the clock.

Time waits for no one, and suddenly it seemed that Messi was falling behind. color randal could have won it in stoppage time at the end of extra time, but emiliano martinez produced the salvage of his life to deny it. There was still time for the substitute lautaro martinez to add to his rather incredible catalog of misses at this World Cup, planting an off-target header at the other end.

Penalties settled things. A magical and titanic contest resolved by the reductive 12-yard shootout. Mbappé went first and scored. Obviously. Messi was next and scored. Obviously.

Martinez saved from kingsley eatand when Aurelien Tchouameni dragged his effort wide open, the gap became too wide. Gonzalo Montiel He scored the winning penalty but, inevitably, Messi captured everyone’s attention.

The cacophony of noise created in large part by Argentina’s fierce and numerically impressive support reached new heights. Elation. Relief. History.

“This squad, these people, play for the people, for the Argentine fans. That’s what I’ve always seen,” Scaloni said of his players. “There are no rivalries, everyone pulls in the same direction and this is for the country. The players broke their backs, they have achieved this title because they understood what they had to do on the pitch.”

The live TV broadcast inside the stadium was sandwiched between those ultra-sharp 8K images of glory and despair, Messi orchestrating the celebrations at the end where the penalty shootout took place, Mbappe trudging across the pitch with a blank stare, almost alien even to the French president. Emmanuel Macron passing with words of comfort.

Suddenly, Messi seized a microphone to address the crowd: “Let’s go Argentinahe said, adding a profanity. Fair enough.

Qatar wanted to redefine its image, strengthen its position in the Middle East and change perceptions of the region through this tournament. For several years in the build up to this World Cup, this small Gulf State faced widespread criticism for its treatment of LGBTQIA+ people, migrant workers and women. He insists that progress has been made in those areas, notably through the abolition of the kafala system, but being gay remains illegal, and the Supreme Committee has been opaque in conveying the true reality of migrant workers working on construction sites.

Now it has a new contribution to the global conversation: it’s the place where Messi was crowned the undisputed king of his craft. He completed his coronation in Lusail, a city north of Doha that essentially did not exist 20 years ago. And all he cost was about $220 billion.

The trophy presentation party was made up of the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the president of the Argentine FA, Claudio Tapia, and Macron. The visuals were flawless, as was the Lusail stadium, if you can somehow separate the human cost. “It was the World Cup of records,” France coach Didier Deschamps said afterwards.

Mbappé, who became the second player after Sir Geoff Hurst to score a hat trick in a World Cup final, won the Golden Boot. Messi won the Ballon d’Or for best player and the World Cup. Thirty-six years after Diego Maradona did the same, Messi defined a tournament in his image and likeness. Nothing better than that for Qatar.

Except they tried.

As the painful process of presenting him with the Jules Rimet Trophy progressed, the emir produced a shawl, known as a bisht, for Messi to wear. A bisht is a ceremonial garment worn by Qataris, and giving it to Messi ensured that Qatar had an indelible mark on the iconic and defining sporting image of this tournament that, surely, should have been about the winners, not the hosts.

Time will tell if there is a positive political or social legacy from these finals. The sporting legacy is already assured.

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