For so many years now, Lionel Messi has been viewed as one of the greatest footballers to ever play the beautiful game. It’s not hard to see why, either, given that he’s won just about every trophy imaginable and he’s done so with the kind of frightening consistency that makes us all wonder whether he’s even human.
He is, of course, because there’s one thing he’s never won – the FIFA World Cup.
Over the course of the last few weeks, the magician known as Leo has done everything in his power to drag Argentina kicking and screaming to the World Cup final. As was the case back in 2014, he’s succeeded.
This time, though, instead of taking on Germany, he’ll be faced with the challenge of battling France.
The big storyline there focuses on the incredible ability of Kylian Mbappe and how exactly it’ll match up against Messi. Les Bleus are the reigning world champions and you could make the argument that they have a better squad player for player, although their semi-final outing left a lot to be desired in comparison to the Argentines
The focus of this game should be on France as a whole and Argentina as a whole. It won’t be, though, and we’re not too upset about that.
We have two of the greatest players of this or any other generation squaring off in football’s greatest spectacle. Sure, it would’ve been even more epic if Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal had made it all the way to the big dance, but we can’t get everything we want.
Mbappe already has a World Cup to his name after Russia 2018. Messi, meanwhile, perhaps doesn’t even need one to still be dubbed the GOAT.
Alas, the success of Pele and Diego Maradona in that particular department does speak volumes.
We aren’t here to suggest that these 90 minutes, or 120, will define the career of Lionel Messi. However, what we do believe is that this is the best possible form a 35-year-old could have coming into such an encounter;
The veteran was remarkable in his side’s semi-final and he’s maintained that same energy throughout. They’ve faced trials and tribulations and they’ve even lost to Saudi Arabia, highlighting just how infuriating and unpredictable the World Cup could be.
We aren’t about to pretend like Qatar hosting the tournament hasn’t been sickening, because it has. We also don’t want to shy away from Messi’s tax-dodging past or his sportswashing ventures, because that’s all fair game.
But at the end of the day, football fans want to see a romantic story play out before their very eyes.
Both Argentina and France have won the World Cup twice, but both of Les Bleus’ triumphs have taken place years after Argentina last lifted the Jules Rimet (yes, we know it’s not technically called that anymore).
This is a moment in time that we should all treasure for years to come. Sure, it may end up being a dull game, but we can’t see how that’ll happen with so many icons on the pitch.
Buckle up, because this is going to be a good one.