Lionel Messi leads Argentina to final with 3-0 rout of Croatia. Argentina delivered an absolutely dominant performance in a 3-0 win over Croatia on Tuesday as Messi scored once and assisted on another goal to lead La Albiceleste into a World Cup final matchup against the winner of France-Morocco.
Dec. 13, 2022
BY FEARGAL BRENNAN, SPORTING NEWS
4 min read
Messi helps Argentina to the finals, 3-0 victory
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot during the World Cup semifinal against Croatia (Getty Images)
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“I feel a lot of things right now, it's very emotional to see all this. To see all the people, all the family during the World Cup was something incredible. We are going for the final game, which is what we wanted.
I don't know if it is my best World Cup or not. It's been a long time for me to enjoy it like this. We were confident that this group could pull off this achievement. We know what we are and we ask the people to believe in us.
Argentina is, again, in a World Cup final - time to enjoy it!
We've been through tough moments, other really good ones. Today we've experienced something spectacular. I'm enjoying myself with all the people, and all the Argentinians that are in our country. I bet it's crazy right now!” AS quoted Messi after the game.
Argentina's drive to secure a place in the 2022 World Cup final pitted them against Croatia at the semifinal stage in Qatar.
Zlatko Dalic's side lost out to France in the 2018 final in Russia and they presented a major test for Lionel Messi and company in Lusail.
Messi's potential date with destiny is one of the big stories at Qatar 2022, as he aims to sign off from international duty with a first World Cup title in his stellar career.
Messi's Argentina against Luka Modric's Croatia was a thriller as La Albiceleste aimed for their first final appearance since 2014.
Of course, the South American side have a rich history when it comes to competing in the latter stages of the World Cup.
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Argentina have made it through to the World Cup final five times since the competition's start back in 1930 with a mixed record of two wins and three defeats.
They are fourth on the list of all-time World Cup final appearances, behind West Germany/Germany (8), Brazil (7), and Italy (6).
Argentina reached the very first World Cup final 92 years ago and have played in four others since.
Their most recent victory came in 1986, when Diego Maradona inspired them to glory in Mexico.
Argentina were invited as one of the 13 teams to the inaugural World Cup in 1930, in neighbouring Uruguay.
After easing through the group stage, with three wins from three games, they hammered USA 6-1 in the semifinals before facing the host nation in the final.
However, the stars aligned for Uruguay to win the title, as they secured a 4-2 victory in Montevideo.
Argentina were forced to wait 48 years for their next run to the World Cup final as they took on the Netherlands, beaten finalists in 1974, in Buenos Aires.
Mario Kempes' brace sealed a 3-1 win after extra time as the ticker tape rained down at the Estadio Monumental for Argentina's first World Cup title.
After failing to defend their title in 1982, Argentina returned to the final in 1986 as a rivalry with West Germany kickstarted in Mexico.
Diego Maradona inspired Argentina throughout the earlier rounds and, despite his quietest game of the tournament in the final, he produced the game-winning assist for Jorge Burruchaga to slot home the clincher in a 3-2 victory.
Maradona again captained Argentina to the final four years later, as the stage looked set for a title defence in Italy.
However, stung by their defeat in 1986, West Germany produced a dogged performance at the Stadio Olimpico as Andreas Brehme's late penalty snatched the title.
Messi's first chance at emulating Maradona's World Cup winning exploits came in the 2014 final as Alejandro Sabella's side battled through to face Germany in Rio de Janeiro.
After a host of painful missed chances, the game slipped away from Messi in extra time, as Mario Gotze popped up to poke home the winner and seal Germany's first World Cup title since reunification.
The 2022 World Cup final will be held at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on December 18.
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