Lionel Messi is leading Argentina into the World Cup final this Sunday versus the winner of yesterday’s (Wednesday) match between France and Morocco Credit: Wikipedia: Tasnim News Agency (

With a dazzling performance against Croatia in Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup semi-final pairing, Argentina’s Lionel Messi has elevated the debate among ardent soccer fans as to who is the greatest player ever.

Argentina bested Croatia 3-0 as Messi scored a goal on a penalty try, and used his dazzling skills to weave through defenders and set up a goal by Julian Alvarez. It was the 35-year-old Messi’s 25th World Cup appearance, tying him with Germany’s Lothar Matthaus, who played in five World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998) and his 11th goal, the most all-time for an Argentine player. Messi has also played in five World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022). He has already announced that his last World Cup appearance will be Sunday at Lusail Stadium in Qatar. 

He ensured Argentina will have a chance to win the country’s first World Cup since 1986 and its third overall. Argentina also captured the title in 1978. For Messi, it would cap a brilliant individual World Cup career resume that is only lacking a championship.   

“I feel very happy to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final,” said Messi. “It’s many years for the next one and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. And to finish like this, it’s the best.” 

So if Messi does conclude this tournament with a victory, is he the GOAT, the greatest of all-time? It’s a subjective argument. His contemporary, 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, has countless followers that are unwavering in their opinion he has no superior on the pitch. Nevertheless, Ronaldo, who has played in five World Cups for Portugal, has never won the championship. 

Portugal was eliminated 1-0 by Morocco in the quarterfinals amid the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star clashing with the team’s coach Fernando Santos. Ronaldo exited Qatar with only one goal scored and no assists. 

The 82-year-old legendary Pele, who in 1999 was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee, was the force behind Brazil’s 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cup championships. He has a legion of supporters that place him at the top of the debate. 

All are worthy of being deemed No. 1. But right now, Messi has taken center stage as more than 1 billion people across the globe will be watching him this weekend chasing the elusive World Cup.

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