Argentina’s seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and all-time goalscorer Lionel Messi did the unthinkable and captured the last silverware missing from his glittering trophy and medal cabinet by winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The La Albiceleste led by him defeated the then defending world champion France in the final on penalties after the latter fought back multiple times in the normal and extra time periods. It is worth noting that megastar Kylian Mbappé scored a hat-trick, but to no avail as two of his teammates had their spot kicks saved and missed respectively.
This victory allowed Messi to win his third trophy at international level, after also winning the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions. His second Golden Ball award (An honour given to the best player of the World Cup tournament) was second to none as he is the first person in the world to have his hands on multiple Golden Balls. With these many accolades collected, many have taken to the internet to call La Pulga the undisputed Greatest Player of All-Time (GOAT) in football.
Five Man of the Match Awards in the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Messi contributed 2 goals as well as one of the scored penalties in the shootout in last night’s final against Les Bleus, making him the man of the match. It was his record fifth MOTM award throughout the tournament and no player came close to equal this feat in this year’s World Cup. In terms of personal goal and assist statistics, he scored a total of seven goals and three assists, making him the runner-up in the top scorer table and second to only his Paris-Saint Germain strike partner, who happened to be his opponent during the final as well.
Messi Over Ronaldo?
In terms of continental awards, both Messi’s Argentina and Ronaldo’s Portugal had overcome their South American and European rivals to reach the pinnacle of their continents while Messi’s CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions win put him level with Ronaldo’s second trophy at international level, the 2018/2019 UEFA Nations League. Therefore, both captains of their respective national teams came into their last dance at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar perceived with only one goal in mind: Winning the World Cup trophy and cementing their position as the best player of the football world.
Prior to the World Cup, Ronaldo has brushed off the claim that either of them winning the biggest prize the football world could offer is not going to affect the Ronaldo-Messi debate as the World Cup happens every four years and teams and players are going to have their chances of winning it. He is content with his achievements regardless of which team is going to be the eventual winner of the competition. While for Messi to win the World Cup title, it must have been a bittersweet moment as he won his only Copa América after losing three finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016 as well as losing the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil to Germany in the dying moments of the extra time, thanks to a Mario Götze goal.
A fan of Messi or Ronaldo or not, what they had achieved for club and country made them unparalleled as two of the greatest footballers ever. A genuine fan of football would also agree that Messi’s win in the World Cup is an truly extraordinary feat.
(Photo Credits: Goal)