Even though Lionel Messi’s goal came from a contentious penalty, his entire performance, especially his contribution to the goal that eliminated Argentina from contention for the championship, will be remembered by football fans and journalists as a time when Messi demonstrated why he may be deserving of the title “Greatest Of All Time” (GOAT).
Lionel Messi outran and outthought Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol to set up Argentina’s third and final goal of the evening. Messi is 35 years old and up against a defender who is 20 years old and has been referred to as one of the finest if not the best in the 2022 World Cup thus far.
Prior to the magical moment, Messi gave Argentina the lead in the 34th minute after Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic collided with Alvarez who had a clear shot at goal. The contentious choice won’t bother Messi or Argentina because the PSG forward stepped up and pushed the ball past Livakovic, who has developed a reputation for being adept at save penalties.
Croatia would try to get an equaliser going forward, but Messi was once again involved as the ball ricocheted off him and into Alvarez’s path, who eventually scored a solo goal with only a little assistance from the defence, which was at sixes and sevens. The first half finished at that point, which was the 39th minute. Croatia loses to Argentina 2.
With the ghost of the 2-2 capitulation against the Netherlands haunting them, Argentina looked determined to score one that will kill any hopes of a Croatian comeback but against a team with Modric, Kovacic, and Brozovic who are adept at keeping the ball, it was always going to be difficult.
At halftime, the Croatian coach made some quick substitutions, inserting forward Orsic and defender Sosa, and they had an instant impact as the Croats continued to probe but were unable to harm the Argentines with their slow-passing style.
The Croats played possession football up until Lionel Messi made the world aware of his status. His opponent, Gvardiol, appeared to have checked him out until two mistakes left him in the shadows of Messi, who then gave the ball to Alvarez, who tapped it in for his second goal of the game and Argentina’s third of the evening.