World Cup: For Lionel Messi and Argentina, now could be all


Doha, Qatar – “Now is all” is a trademark phrase utilized by Qatar 2022 organisers. On Sunday, it couldn’t be extra apt.

The stage for a grand farewell is ready at Lusail Stadium. The viewers numbers shall be touching 89,000. Billions internationally shall be watching.

On paper and the pitch, Argentina will tackle France within the World Cup 2022 ultimate at Lusail Stadium. But for almost all, it has been marketed as a Messi present. He’s slated to be the conductor of soccer’s biggest present reaching its finale, and the boy from Rosario reaching the head of his profession.

That’s what the script says, at the least.

Sunday’s fruits of the primary World Cup to happen within the Middle East shall be Messi’s final outing on the event. It’s not a lot that he needs to go away that indelible mark on this event – and emulate the good Diego Maradona – it’s that he, and the tens of millions following him internationally, need the World Cup to be Messi’s World Cup, his final, his finest, his solely.

The episodes previous this finale have definitely highlighted that storyline and pointed to that very completely happy ending (not for France, after all).

Messi scored in Argentina’s first match at Qatar 2022 – a shock loss to Saudi Arabia.

Messi scored in the newest – a shocking humbling of final yr’s finalists Croatia.

In between, he scored three extra and supplied an help that not solely re-affirmed his standing, his stature and his giant-like presence but additionally despatched non-believers to place their pot of gold subsequent to the blue and white stripes.

“It’s only Messi, wallah (by God), it’s only Messi,” mentioned Mohammad Nahawi, a Brazil supporter left in awe of Messi after the Argentinian’s spectacle in opposition to Croatia within the semifinal.

“I support Brazil but I love Messi. This guy, wallah. It’s 99.9 percent him and 0.01 percent the rest of the players [on the team]. Nobody can stop this guy.”

Messi’s is a tragic story, one among incomplete goals, unfulfilled wishes and of heights he goals of. But for Sunday, the stage is ready, the script is written and the grass is being watered. It might very effectively be the that dream shall be full, the wishes fulfilled, the heights achieved.

The ball dances to his tune, so ought to the game. But it hasn’t but. Not till he lifts the trophy that issues probably the most, to him, to the nation, to these billions sporting the quantity 10 stripes and singing his title throughout Rosario, Kerala, Dhaka, Bangkok, and Doha.

“Pfft, no words for him, he’s Messi,” Dong, who travelled to Qatar from China to look at Messi play, mentioned. “He’s been just.. so perfect. And he’s showed us those god-like moments. You can’t stop him, no way. Argentina will be champions and Messi will lift the trophy.”

There has been a rare demand for Messi’s quantity 10 shirts as he powered his option to the ultimate. It was offered out in some international locations and operating low in others.

The demand was such that Adidas issued an announcement saying the corporate was “working to get more jerseys to fans so they can celebrate an incredible journey for the national team”.

“He’s the special one, the best one, the crazy one, call him what you will, he’s the one,” mentioned Federico who was born in Rosario, the town that gave the world Messi.

“Nobody can take the ball from him, he’s just in that place right now. He’s having his best World Cup and we’re so proud of him and what he’s done so far.”

As the ultimate whistle blew within the semifinal in opposition to Croatia, Messi stood alone on the midway line on the pitch. He regarded up, regarded down, and hunched over earlier than going right into a bear hug with the substitutes.

He realised he was inside touching distance of fulfilling his dream, the dream of a nation and the tens of millions sporting the blue and white stripes with 10 on the again.

France have already misplaced as soon as on this event. But they need to turn out to be solely the third aspect to win back-to-back world cups (Italy 1934 and 1938, Brazil 1958 and 1962) so a win is not going to be handed over on a plate.

It can’t simply be about Messi at Lusail Stadium on Sunday. But having seen the path he’s left behind within the final month or so, and the way the peacefulness of a late November night was destroyed with utter disdain by Argentina followers celebrating his objective in opposition to Mexico, it’d very effectively be.

Messi is the joint top-scorer at World Cup 2022 wiht 5 targets [Paul Childs/Reuters]