Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez believes his former teammate Lionel Messi had to win the FIFA World Cup.
Messi finally won the only major trophy to have eluded him over the course of his illustrious career on December 18. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar as they beat France on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw after extra time.
Xavi Hernandez, who won numerous trophies alongside Lionel Messi during their decade-long stint together at Barcelona, has now lauded the legendary forward. The Spaniard recently said (as quoted by Barca Blaugranes):
“Argentina really deserved it, they were better at the game, just like Leo. That the best player in history did not have a World Cup was a bit strange.
“He now has the World Cup, so all that remains is to congratulate him, because he deserves it. The best had to have a World Cup.”
Xavi also expressed his sympathies for France’s Barcelona duo of Ousmane Dembele and Jules Kounde, both of whom started the final, saying:
“It has been an extraordinary final for the spectator. I feel bad for Jules and Ousmane, but it was spectacular, one of the best matches I’ve ever seen.”
Xavi gives his verdict on the World Cup final
The 2022 FIFA World Cup final has been widely lauded as one of the greatest football matches of all time.
Argentina took the lead midway through the first half through Lionel Messi’s penalty. Angel Di Maria then made it 2-0 after a blistering counter-attack before the break. France pounced back with two quickfire goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation time, with Kylian Mbappe netting twice, including a stunning volley.
This forced the game into extra time, where Messi put La Albiceleste in front with a volleyed finish of his own. However, Mbappe’s ice-cold penalty ensured that the game went into penalties.
The Frenchman scored the first spot-kick, but Kingsley Coman saw his penalty saved while Aurelien Tchouameni fired wide. Meanwhile, Messi, Paulo Dybala and Leandro Paredes all netted from the spot for Argentina.
Randal Kolo Muani gave France a final ray of hope, but Gonzalo Montiel converted La Albiceleste‘s fourth spot-kick to give them a 4-2 win.
Lionel Messi states desire to continue playing for Argentina after World Cup triumph
Lionel Messi maintained over the course of the 2022 FIFA World Cup that it would be his last appearance in the competition. While he reaffirmed that after Argentina’s win over France in the final, he said he wasn’t looking to retire from international football just yet.
Speaking after the victory, the Paris Saint-Germain superstar said (as quoted by express.co.uk):
“I will not retire. I want to continue playing as a champion.”
He added when asked if this would be his last World Cup:
“Yes. Surely yes. There’s a lot of years until the next one and I don’t think I have it in me and finishing like this is best. [I feel] a lot of happiness to be able to achieve this.”
Lionel Messi: “I am not retiring from the Argentina national team. I want to continue playing as a champion.”
Lionel Messi’s record in the quadrennial tournament improved drastically after the 2022 edition in Qatar. With seven goals and three assists in seven matches, he moved up to 13 goals and eight assists in 26 World Cup matches.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup’s Player of the Tournament also inched closer to a century of goals for Argentina. He now has 98 strikes in 172 matches for La Albiceleste to go along with 55 assists.
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