Lionel Messi is the walking proof that you can’t keep a good man down as he heads for another World Cup final, according to Argentina team-mate Cristian Romero.
Eight years since Messi and Argentina were left heartbroken by defeat to Germany at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, another shot at football’s greatest prize awaits on Sunday.
The Albiceleste coasted to a 3-0 semi-final victory over Croatia on Tuesday, with Messi’s penalty followed by a Julian Alvarez double.
Messi was typically excellent, setting up Alvarez’s second goal by dancing past Josko Gvardiol, and it will be the captain to whom Argentina look for inspiration in the final against France or Morocco.
At the age of 35, the Paris Saint-Germain forward could be about to experience his career’s crowning glory.
Defender Romero said: “Leo’s of course a wonderful player, but more than that he’s a reference and he’s somebody who is a personality, who is always going for more.
“He’s been hit so many times and every time he gets back up again and goes for more and he has the strength to do that. He won a Copa America, he’s a benchmark like others, [Angel] Di María, Kun [Sergio Aguero], who is no longer here.”
19 – Lionel Messi has been involved in 19 goals at the World Cup (11 goals, 8 assists), equalling the best goals+assists tally for a player since 1966 (when data is available), previously set by Miroslav Klose, Ronaldo and Gerd Müller. Guide.
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Messi has matched the record of the most appearances in World Cups, the 25 previously held alone by Lothar Matthaus.
He is also now Argentina’s record World Cup scorer with 11 goals, one more than Gabriel Batistuta.
Having such a figure as the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in the ranks is inevitably uplifting for Argentina, who are seeking their first World Cup triumph since 1986 when the similarly inspirational Diego Maradona was pulling the strings.
Romero added: “You put your life into this, to bring the trophy home. We’re here to deliver. It was shown once again that we are lions. No matter what happens on Sunday, we are going to give all we’ve got to bring the cup home.”