Lionel Messi leads Argentina to World Cup title, can go down like GOAT

Argentina’s third World Cup championship, which came after a match considered an all-time classic, created a rare moment of euphoria and happiness for a country plagued by near triple-digit inflation. and faced months of economic and political turmoil.

Cheerful fans, emblazoned with the blue and white of the national flag, gathered in downtown Buenos Aires on Sunday afternoon to celebrate a victory that sometimes seems out of reach. team hand. Winning football’s top prize, Argentina’s first in 36 years, provides a much-needed distraction from the miseries of everyday life.

The penalty shootout victory over France – the two teams drew 3-3 after extra time at Lusail Stadium in Qatar – was even more bittersweet as it could mark the final appearance at the World Cup of the global superstar and the talisman of the team Lionel Messi. In lifting the trophy on Qatar night, Messi polished his image as the greatest player in the world and potentially of all time.

The prospect of seeing Messi lift the world championship trophy at the age of 35 has inspired thousands of Argentines to make the arduous and expensive trip to Qatar — fans such as Emiliano Piano, 41 . He attended all seven of Argentina’s matches, first staying with his partner and then with five friends who came later.

“For me personally, this is a dream come true,” Piano said by phone amid a crowd of fans celebrating in Qatar. “After five World Cups chasing this, I can finally see Messi as the world champion.”

Messi scored the opening goal of the match — from the penalty spot — scored again in extra time to make it 3-2, and took the penalty kick in the penalty shootout. When Gonzalo Montiel took the decisive kick, Messi fell to his knees in the center circle and was engulfed by his teammates.

“It’s crazy that it happened this way,” he said. “I really wanted this.”

For Piano and millions of Argentinians, this victory will provide the advantage of another difficult economic year.

Inflation, a perennial problem in the crisis-prone country, is poised to end the year near 100% after starting at 50%. While jobs have returned and unemployment has fallen, wage growth for many new hires is below inflation, meaning workers are losing their purchasing power. Extreme poverty is on the rise.

If history is a guide, next year’s presidential election will cause more volatility in an economy already experiencing a crop drought that is expected to hurt exports. import important goods. Economists surveyed by the central bank expect inflation to remain near 100% by the end of next year.

But at least for now, there is a feeling that all Argentinians are on the same side.

“It’s an achievement that unifies the country,” Piano said. “Winning doesn’t solve anything, but you feel grateful that there are no well-known political divisions,” he said.

Harsh economic facts aren’t exactly front and center as triumphant fans spill onto the streets of the capital, dancing, singing and climbing onto balconies, lampposts and any vantage point. which is available. The celebrations for Messi are as many as for the team. Without him, the team would have gone home much sooner.

After albiceleste kicking off their campaign with a stunning loss to Saudi Arabia, it was Messi, whose performance helped the team to five straight wins ahead of Sunday’s game. Coach Lionel Scaloni said it was too early to start ending Messi’s international career.

After albiceleste kicking off their campaign with a stunning loss to Saudi Arabia, it was Messi, whose performance helped the team to five straight wins ahead of Sunday’s game.

Messi said he will not hang up his famous Argentina shirt.

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