Lionel Messi’s retro blast at destiny

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By Creative Media News

Does it matter whether or not Lionel Messi wins the World Cup? This will be the narrative around the closing days of his final global event before Sunday’s final.

The truth is something different. Observing Messi here, the reverse appeared to be true. This was not only a performance of edge and thrust and decisive moments, but he carved all of those things out of the air with his unique physical style, a 35-year-old footballer capable of essentially creating this in his image.

Football will forever be the most literal-minded and result-focused type of sporting mayhem. Regardless matter the outcome of this fever dream of a winter World Cup, one thing becomes indisputable.

The little, badger-like figure in the baggy blue and white shirt, the man out there changing the game against the Croatian midfield’s iron fist, is already the greatest footballer ever.

Eight years earlier, in a slightly different form, he reached the World Cup final for the last time. The third and final goal in this Messi-impaired semi-final victory was reminiscent of a throwback, the football equivalent of a melancholy wedding anniversary dance.

Lionel messi's retro blast at destiny
Lionel messi's retro blast at destiny

Messi received the ball on the right side after 69 minutes had passed. There was an immediate difference in his gait, a deep, ferret-like sense of purpose. He lowered his shoulder. He jinked. Wait. He’s doing Messi redux. He is performing winger moves.

Messi followed Josko Gvardiol into the penalty area, holding his opponent off by continually stroking the ball like a woodpecker pecking at a piece of bark.

Then he pirouetted back, almost as bait, before whirling back towards goal and inside Gvardiol, who, lest we forget, is 20 years old and the tournament’s defense, but is now being rinsed, and rinsed again, like a wet dish towel.

Messi was then able to roll the ball back to Julián lvarez at a 45-degree angle to end the game. The run, the pass, and the goal all felt like some sort of mnemonic, a reminder of Messi, another ghost in this World Cup full of ghosts.

Nevertheless, each of these late-Messi knockout games has a peculiar aura of danger. Is this the end? Are we bidding farewell to something? If so, a suitable funeral will be held.

Lionel messi sets up his shot
Lionel messi's retro blast at destiny

The interior of the Lusail Stadium is awe-inspiring, with sides sloping towards its retractable roof and a wide expanse of blackness surrounded by massive steel bracing that resembles an open mouth howling at the sky.

Any attempt by Argentina’s fans to establish an authentic atmosphere was, of course, drowned out by the mind-numbingly inane PA. It is to be hoped that this is toned down for the championship game, as something is happening with Argentina’s fans.

The blue and white shirts were singing, stamping, and waving their litany of relics, including the severed cardboard Maradona head, the flags, and the miraculous vestments and trinkets as they descended through concourses.

There is always an element of commitment in Argentine football. This tournament has felt like a religious celebration, a Messi revivalist parade.

Argentina needed his spark as Croatia dominated the ball early on, owing to their superior midfield genetics. Once it was said that Luka Modric resembles a young boy disguised as a witch. This no longer holds.

He now appears to be a teen disguised as a witch. And he was brilliant here for twenty minutes until a different type of fate intervened.

The first goal came out of nowhere. Enzo Fernández made a direct pass behind the Croatian defense. lvarez was running away, but he was stopped as he stole the ball past Dominik Livanovi.

Messi took the ball deliberately, and looked at his feet, before producing an unstoppable penalty kick that sailed into the top of the goal. This was Messi’s fifth goal in this World Cup, and interestingly enough, his fourth at the stadium dubbed “Iconic.” If you create it, he will come.

Then, lvarez, who had been outstanding throughout the game, scored a fantastic direct faux Diego to make the score 2-0. Has there ever been a more bizarre World Cup goal? This was an after-hours recreation of Maradona ’86 utilizing wheelie bins and a tennis ball.

Messi sent the final pass within his half. And from there, lvarez had open grass and a scary rolling retreat in front of him. He kept sprinting. And kept running. Essentially, he went 60 meters in a straight line with the ball, crash-tackled the last two defenders, then produced a delicate finish, almost as an afterthought, as if he were finishing a race.

Messi had scored one goal, assisted on another, touched the ball 63 times, dribbled more than anybody else on the field, and played the role of a fatherlike figure guiding fate to perfection.

What’s next? Is Messi poised to create a fairytale conclusion for this World Cup of death? Does it matter either way? His talent resides in these moments, as the slouching figure out there under the lights, smaller, older, and more ordinary than the super-athletes surrounding him, the average Mozart slouching about yet nevertheless producing remarkable results.

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