Argentina's journey to the World Cup 2022 championship
Argentina entered the 2022 World Cup when they had gained Intercontinental Super Cup (winning 3-0 against Italy). they also owned the series of 36 unbeaten matches and a disciplined, scientific style of play. Therefore, from the group stage on, they were seen as one of the top contenders for the championship.
However, Argentina began the 2022 World Cup with a shocking defeat. They lost to Saudi Arabia despite Lionel Messi taking the lead in the 10th minute. A notable detail is that Argentina played the first and last matches of the World Cup in Lisbon, and the players who scored in both two matches were Lionel Messi.
Failure on the opening day made Lionel Scaloni's teachers and students awake and they demonstrated why they are candidates for the championship. Argentina came into the second match with the risk of early elimination if they had any mistakes. In the first half of the match against Mexico, Argentina faced many difficulties, but in the second half, with goals scored by Messi and Enzo Fernandez, the South American representative won 2-0.
Lionel Messi faced rival Robert Lewandowski in the final round of the group stage, and Albiceleste won 2-0 to maintain their lead. This is also the only match in the journey to the World Cup where Messi did not score. The players who scored were Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez.
Despite entering the round of 16, Messi and Alvarez scored to help Argentina lead 2-0 before Enzo's own goal gave Australia hope. The highlight of the match came in the last minutes, when Lisandro Martinez blocked the Australian player's shot in the penalty area, which was equivalent to a goal.
Argentina entered the quarterfinals against the Netherlands. This match was considered as an early final when the two teams are strong. In thí match, Argentina led to 2-0 and they seemed certain to win. However, from the 83rd minute to the end of injury time, the Netherlands shook the opponent's net twice in a row, forcing extra time and eventually deciding the winner on the penalty shootout. Messi and his teammates successfully completed four penalty kicks, while the other team only completed three kicks. Argentina won a close match against the Netherlands with the final score of 4-3.
The semi-finals were flawlessly executed by Lionel Messi and his teammates, who defeated the defending runners-up by three goals and won convincingly. The highlight of the game was Messi's pass in front of the young center-back Gvardiol and subsequent assist for Alvarez.
Argentina had to compete with the defending champions - France in the final match. This game was very tense when it lasted more than 120 intense minutes but not to find out the winner. Argentina took a 2-0 lead and were level at 2-2. In extra time, Messi put Argentina up 3-2, but Mbappe completed a hat-trick to equalize at 3-3. The two teams had to go to a penalty shootout, which Albiceleste won with a score of 4-2.
With the World Cup 2022 trophy, Lionel Messi completed his title collection, proving himself to be the greatest player of all time. He also set a new record in Argentina. He became the player with the most appearances in World Cup history (26 matches), surpassing the 25-game record of German football legend Lothar Matthaus. In 26 matches, there were 19 times when Messi wore the captain's armband, and the Argentine superstar set another record for the person with the most minutes wearing the captain's armband in World Cup history (2,314 minutes). Behind Messi in this statistic is Rafa Marquez, with 17 matches with the Mexican team. In addition, with a goal at the 11-minute mark in the 23rd minute, Messi became the first player in history to score in the group stage and every match in the knockout round of a World Cup.
After the 2022 World Cup, Messi confirmed that he will continue to devote himself to Argentina and has no intention of retiring from his international career.
With all the effort, Argentina deserved to have the World Cup championship after 36 years of waiting. Coach Lionel Scaloni's team was overjoyed with the celebration arranged by the host country Qatar to process the trophy immediately following the game. The world champion's trophy procession was held under the protection of security forces, as well as with the participation of the orchestra. Even the camel, the symbol of the middle Eastern desert, is used in honor of Messi and his teammates.