For the first time in 36 years, Argentina has won the World Cup, taking it home since 1986, the year Maradona helped lift the trophy.
The stage was set– Lionel Messi looking for his first world cup while Kylian Mbappe looked to solidify his stay in the history books, fighting for back-to-back world championships.
Many suspected France to win after the last world cup in 2018, but Argentina proved these expectations wrong with determination and hard work.
The final was held on December 18th, and Argentina clashed against the former champions of France. In the first half of the game, Argentina seemed quite confident as two goals were already scored by the 36th minute. This lead was dramatically erased in the 81st minute, however, as French star Kylian Mbappe surprised the world by scoring two goals in one minute and 33 seconds. As tensions flared, Messi scored another goal in the 108th minute, but Mbappe quickly tied it up once again, scoring a penalty to make it 3-3. This tension between these two superstars of the game gave us an outstanding clash between the present and the future of the football world. After the most nerve-racking 120 minutes of both teams’ lives, Argentina took the world cup title in a penalty shootout by making all 4 of its penalties while France came up short with just two makes, one coming from Mbappe of course!
Though Messi was a big part of the victory, many overlook the rest of the team’s success. In fact, winger Di Maria was one of the two players that scored early in the final. We also cannot forget the heroic performance of infamous goalie Emiliano Martinez, who saved Argentina from defeat countless times during this bout. It was the Argentines’ ability to work as a team that got them through the group, knockout, and final stages.
Immediately after Argentina sealed the victory, the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires erupted in celebration, chanting songs, blaring car horns, and even setting off fireworks. Even other countries celebrated the win with festivities to honor the country. Messi thanked the fans in what is now the most-liked Instagram post of all time with a heartfelt message:
“I dreamt it so many times, I can not believe it. Thank you very much to my family, to all those who support and also to all those who believed in us. We show once again that when the Argentines fight together and are united we are capable of achieving what we set out to do. The merit belongs to this group, which is above the individualities, and is the strength of all, fighting for the same dream that was also all of the Argentines… we did it!”
Once the Argentine players landed in Argentina, they were presented with a hero’s welcome by the citizens of Argentina. The government declared the day they held their parade in Buenos Aires a national holiday. After this declaration, an open-top bus was driven through the capital as a victory parade was hosted for 50 miles with the players waving at the Argentinian citizens down below. At least 4 million people came to celebrate forcing the commemoration to a halt, with the team members having to be flown out via helicopters.
Messi’s former teammates congratulated them on Instagram, with the likes of Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez paying respect to his historical performance. Messi was also welcomed back at PSG with a round of applause by his teammates.
There has always been a debate between fans about who is the goat of football: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Though, after this world cup, the answer is pretty clear. Lionel Messi, once a little boy from Rosario, is now hailed as the greatest of all time in the football world.