Lionel Messi experienced a rollercoaster of emotions in the FIFA World Cup. His actions and reactions, particularly towards Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal, have been a topic of much discussion.
Argentina's World Cup campaign began with a surprising defeat to Saudi Arabia. It shook the confidence of fans and players alike. However, Messi led the charge in their revival. First, he scored against Mexico and then contributed to the victory over Poland, despite missing a penalty.
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The match against the Netherlands was particularly intense. Before the game, Van Gaal had made critical remarks about Messi's style of play and his contributions off the ball. This seemed to fuel Messi's performance as he assisted a goal and scored a penalty, celebrating by covering his ears with his hands - a gesture he later admitted regretting.
Messi's admission came in an ESPN interview, where he reflected on his spontaneous celebration, inspired by 'Topo Gigio', a cartoon character. In the cartoon, a player holds his hands over his ears as a gesture of defiance towards someone. Messi, however, expressed immediate regret.
“As soon as I did it I thought: 'What an idiot. They can still tie it.' These things usually happen," he said.
Path to glory
Argentina's journey did not stop there. They triumphed over Croatia in the semi-finals, with Messi both scoring and assisting Julian Alvarez. The final against France was a true test of resilience and skill. Argentina initially took the lead with goals from Messi and Angel Di Maria. But, French striker Kylian Mbappe had other plans. His late goals pushed the game into extra time.
Messi found the net again in extra time, but Mbappe equalised, taking the game to a nail-biting penalty shootout. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez emerged as a hero, making crucial saves and ensuring Argentina's victory.
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