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विश्वकप २०२२ लाइभ: अर्जेन्टिनालाई फाइनलमा पुर्‍याएपछि मेस्सीले इतिहासमा स्थान बनाउने लक्ष्य राखेका छन्

Messi magic seals Argentina’s place in World Cup final after beating Croatia

Lionel Messi beamed with pride after his magical display inspired Argentina to a resounding victory against Croatia and secured their place in the World Cup final.

One of the greatest players in football history, the 35-year-old put in a man-of-the-match display in Tuesday’s Lusail Stadium semi-final against the 2018 runners-up.

Messi converted a first-half spot-kick and watched Julian Alvarez end a strong solo run with a cool finish, before the skipper showed incredible nous and skill to tee up the Manchester City forward to wrap up a 3-0 win. Argentina will return to Lusail to face France or Morocco on Sunday, when their captain can crown a glittering career with glory in what looks set to be his last appearance on the world stage.

“Well, what I can say is that I am enjoying this a lot,” 35-year-old Messi said with a smile. “I am feeling really good. This is what we’ve been doing in every match. The previous match was a big sacrifice and we went into extra time. That wasn’t easy. Today we were tired but we pulled our strengths to earn this victory.”

Follow updates on the build-up to the World Cup semi-finals and all the latest news from Qatar 2022 below:


By Richard Jolly in Qatar

Didier Deschamps was discussing the secret of his success. “There is no secret,” he said, providing the kind of answer to explain why someone who, in a few days’ time, could rank as the joint most successful manager in the history of the World Cup is rarely seen as any kind of coaching genius.

An understated figure has assessed a formidable CV while remaining relatively unheralded. Only two men have manager World Cup-winning sides, captained World Cup-winning teams, European Championship-winning and Champions League-winning teams: Franz Beckenbauer and Deschamps. The Frenchman was one of the first to win the European Cup with two clubs as a player; as a coach, he has taken Monaco to the final, an achievement that has stood the test of time, and France to the Euro 2016 final.

He has won the Nations League, which may or may not acquire more meaning in time. Now he could join Vittorio Pozzo, Italy’s coach in 1934 and 1938, as the only two-time World Cup-winning manager.

Is Deschamps an all-time great or a man who was in the right place at the right time? Both, perhaps. One of his closest allies, his captain for a decade, Hugo Lloris offered some insight. “He has of course tremendous experience as a player and a coach at international level,” the goalkeeper said. “He is calm and collected and transmits that to the players. He is an inspiration to the players. We have a great relationship between players and coach and it is not a coincidence he has been a coach for such a long time.”

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 10:11


Is Gareth Southgate the right manager to turn exciting England into champions?

As Gareth Southgate boarded the flight from Doha on Sunday morning, he genuinely had no idea whether this was his last duty as England manager. He admitted in the immediate aftermath of the France defeat that he is “conflicted”. What was particularly striking was how he stated the boos at Molineux during the 4-0 defeat to Hungary earlier this year had got to him, and how he has found much of the last 18 months “difficult”.

Some who know Southgate now firmly believe he will go, that his “energy” for the job is at its limit.

It is why he doesn’t want to make any decision over the next few days. Southgate knows that would be a mistake, and potentially lead to a “wrong call”. He instead wants to come back with a clear mind, and talk things through fully and rationally with the FA.

There is one thoroughly logical reason to stay. This squad is young yet experienced, and could well be in its proper prime by Euro 2024. It is tantalising. Players like Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham will be even more rounded than they are now, a tournament in Qatar where everyone among the England staff was so struck by the psychological leap they’d made since even Euro 2020.

The team are now so close, which even this defeat illustrated.

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 10:00


‘Everybody wanted us to lose’: Emi Martinez hails Argentina run to World Cup final

The Aston Villa goalkeeper, who has been outspoken throughout the tournament in Qatar, kept another clean sheet at the Lusail Stadium.

Lionel Messi’s penalty and a double from Julian Alvarez was enough to book a place in Sunday’s final against the winner of France vs Morocco, with Martinez claiming there is a siege mentality in the Albiceleste’s group.

“I can’t believe it, we lost the first game and everything was upside down,” Martinez told beIN SPORTS. “People were doubting us, we lost the unbeaten run. Against Mexico in the first half it was sloppy. Everybody wanted us to lose, it’s us against the rest of the world.

“It’s just amazing, we feel the crowd on the streets, every time we play we feel like we are at home. We’re so happy to have them here.”

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 09:45


Luka Modric denied final masterpiece but departs World Cup stage with his greatness secured

By Richard Jolly in Qatar

His final contribution brought the ultimate indignity. The byword for precision was smacked in the face by his own shot. Admittedly, it ricocheted back off Alexis Mac Allister and there was little Luka Modric could do about it. The winner of the Golden Ball in the last World Cup nevertheless ended up with the ball in his face in this.

And that, bar a third-place play-off, was Modric’s final involvement on this stage. His number went up seconds after; in effect, the white flag had been raised with it. When the captain came off, it was all over for Croatia. They were 3-0 down. He had wrested back control of one World Cup semi-final, his every pass asserting control with a trademark blend of elegance and intelligence, but that was four years ago against England. There was no repeat. Modric can feel timeless, but his time is up in World Cups.

They all knew it, the Argentina fans who joined in the ovation when Lovro Majer replaced him, his former Real Madrid team-mate Angel Di Maria, who sought him out after the final whistle, the now retired Sergio Aguero who came to offer his condolences in the tunnel. Argentina had been graceless winners against the Netherlands in the quarter-final; when it came to Modric, however, they recognised greatness.

Perhaps it was the parallel with Lionel Messi, with the other old-timer in his final World Cup; flip the result and others would have commiserated with him. One way or another, sadness was a certainty.

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 09:27


Lionel Messi takes flight to deliver a piece of World Cup history

By Lawrence Ostlere at Lusail Stadium

Two hours before kick-off, fans milled up and down Lusail Boulevard in a hubbub of heart-pumping, stomach-gripping excitement. It is a wide street full of palm trees and bright shops and generic restaurants, a themepark of a place, and this so-called ‘city of the future’ felt like a weird location for some football history. But here they waited, outside McDonald’s and Nando’s and Sainsbury’s, wondering what the night had in store.

This was where Argentina’s destiny would be decided; or rather Lionel Messi’s, for that was who they’d come to see. It was the only way to explain why, beyond Argentina’s core of travelling supporters, thousands of local fans were here wearing Argentina shirts and draped in Argentinian flags. Inside the giant illuminated stadium, a group of young Arabic men took their seats wearing traditional Keffiyeh headdress coloured in the famous blue and white stripes. Thousands of people had come not really to see a World Cup semi-final, nor even to see a football match, as such. They’d come to see a moment.

Messi has his own gravitational pull, one which extends from the streets of Rosario to the bland boulevards of Lusail and far beyond. At one minute to 10pm in Doha, a posse of local volunteers rolled up the giant centre-piece covering the middle portion of the pitch and lugged it up on to their shoulders. As they prepared to march away, suddenly their heads began to spin to the left, one after another like dominos. There was Messi, a few feet across the grass, walking to his mark for the start of the World Cup semi-final.

There is a different feeling watching Messi now to any other time in his career. There is an urgency, an angst. Every touch carries more weight than before. Every match could be his last. Here he attracted everything – defenders, fans, cameras – except the ball. The match lasted 100 minutes from the first whistle to the last, and in between Messi only had control of the ball for a total of barely 60 seconds. Two seconds here, five there, and each little spell sent a surge of energy pulsating through the stadium.

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 09:10


France won’t ‘fall into a trap’ against Morocco, Raphael Varane insists

The defending champions are just two victories away from becoming the first side to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962 after reaching the semi-finals with a hard-fought win over England on Saturday.

Standing between them and a final against Argentina or Croatia are Qatar 2022 surprise package Morocco on Wednesday.

Les Bleus are strong favourites to get through but Varane is not taking anything for granted against a Morocco side who have conceded just one goal on their unexpected run to the last four.

The Manchester United centre-back said at a press conference: “We have a lot of experience and will not fall into the trap of thinking we’re favourites…

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 08:59


The different thinking that has defined Morocco’s World Cup fairytale

By Miguel Delaney in Doha

It is the sort of counter-intuition that Walid Regragui has already become famous for, and could yet make him a historic figure in football. While almost everyone has been asking the Moroccan manager what his plan for Kylian Mbappe is, the former defender’s main concern is another area of the pitch.

Ahead of the World Cup semi-final against France, he has been working with Azzedine Ounahi on what is the most complicated role in the Morocco team, because the Angers midfielder constantly targets three different channels at once. That is very hard to defend against, and represents one of their main attacking outlets. It also forms a defensive role in itself because it can sufficiently confuse opposition sides to disrupt their coherence.

The idea is that Ounahi’s movement should give that French midfield behind Antoine Griezmann a lot to think about, all while Morocco’s own backline will be fully clear about their jobs.

Regragui, to a certain degree, knows his defence takes care of itself.

This isn’t to say it’s all instinctive, or that there will be no idea for Mbappe. It’s quite the opposite.

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 08:41


Walid Regragui vows Morocco will fight to achieve ‘crazy’ World Cup dream

On Wednesday the Atlas Lions face the ultimate test against reigning world champions France, but coach Regragui insists they are not satisfied with a place in the semi-finals.

“The further you get, the more difficult the games are. We are playing the world champions with world-class players and a very good coach, possibly the best in the world,” he said.

“But we will show great desire and try to pull off an upset. Why not reach the final of the World Cup? We’ve come to this competition to change mindsets within our continent. If we say the semi-final is enough, I don’t agree.

“We aren’t satisfied with the semi-final and being the first African team to do that. We want to go further. It’s a knock-out game and when you have desire, commitment and the support of the crowd, you can win it.”

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 08:28


How Antoine Griezmann reinvented himself as France’s midfield conductor

By Lawrence Ostlere in Doha

Until October, Atletico Madrid used Griezmann for a maximum of 29 minutes per match. His loan contract dictated that if he made a certain number of 30-minute appearances then Atletico would owe his parent club Barcelona €40m, and they didn’t fancy paying up. So, before the dispute was resolved, Griezmann’s season began with precise bursts from the bench.

Arriving at the World Cup, his minutes this season read: 28, 28, 26, 27, 29, 27, 27, 90, 29, 90, 65, 90, 90, 90, 76, 90, 30, 90, 73, 90, 90.

If French medical staff were to design a plan for a 31-year-old midfielder going into a mid-season World Cup, you can imagine it would look something like this, gently simmering before bringing him to the boil.

By way of comparison, Harry Kane was cooked by Tottenham manager Antonio Conte. Kane started all of Tottenham’s 23 pre-World Cup games and finished 21 of those, totaling almost 2,000 minutes compared to Griezmann’s 1,264. Few players arrived in Qatar with as many miles on the clock as the England captain.

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 08:12


Argentina 3-0 Croatia – MATCH REPORT

By Miguel Delaney at the Lusail Stadium

In this regal third act, Lionel Messi has the rarest second chance. A player commonly recognised as the greatest ever will have another sacred opportunity to confirm that on Sunday.

Messi goes to a second World Cup final, having driven Argentina to their sixth. The force of such a word doesn’t really do justice to the display that was witnessed at the Lusail, which had the 35-year-old take command of the stage by so dazzlingly taking control of the ball.

The first goal of this commanding 3-0 win over a jaded Croatia reflected the focus that has characterised his World Cup, and made him its joint top scorer. The assist for the third – if it can even be reduced to such a term – reflected the mercurial mastery of a football that has characterised his entire career.

If all of this seems too focused on Messi, just as a great football nation returns to the greatest stage, it is only because the Argentina players would say the same. They talk of how he has fired them through this World Cup, with the will to win it for him also uniting the team even more.

Kieran Jackson14 December 2022 07:56

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