Lionel Messi was the driving force behind Argentina winning their second international trophy in less than a year’s time, just 12 months after they finally broke their 18-year trophy drought.
The world-famous playmaker was an instrumental part of his country’s triumphant run at the Copa America championship in the previous summer, which was their first trophy since the year 1993. This victory ensured that they would compete in the 2022 Finalissima, which will take place on Wednesday night at Wembley Stadium against Italy, the defending European champion.
Messi was, as usual, the main man for Lionel Scaloni’s side as they secured a comfortable three-goal victory over the Azzurri. The Azzurri’s slump in form since their remarkable Euro 2020 title at this venue a year ago has been alarming, causing them to miss out on a place at this year’s World Cup finals. Messi was the main man for Lionel Scaloni’s side as they secured a comfortable three-go
Messi, a star player for Paris Saint-Germain, turned back the hands of time by providing a sublime assist for striker Lautaro Martinez two minutes before the half-hour mark. Martinez scored the goal. Martinez finished the game off in fittingly elegant fashion by firing the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is Messi’s club teammate.
Argentina had already established themselves as the team to beat, and they extended their advantage to two goals in the dying seconds of the first half, with Martinez supplying the assist this time. Angel Di Maria, another star player for Paris Saint-Germain, but one who will be leaving the Parc des Princes this summer because his contract is up, was helped to score by the Inter striker who provided the assist. Di Maria’s burst of speed allowed him to get by Giorgio Chiellini before he provided a wonderful dinked finish.
It was a difficult time for Chiellini, and it turned out to be his last action in an Italy shirt. The veteran defender is retiring from international football, and he was taken off at half time at the stadium where his best moment for Italy had occurred, when he lifted the European Championships trophy last summer. It was a bittersweet experience for Chiellini, and it turned out to be his last action in an Italy shirt.
After the halftime break, Argentina continued to exert their dominance over a team that was struggling, in this case Italy. This was a game that was more in line with Roberto Mancini’s side’s form over the past year rather than their glorious few weeks last summer, when they were deservedly crowned European champions before a huge drop-off in form caused them to miss their second consecutive World Cup. In other words, this was a game that was more in line with their performance over the past year. Late in the game, substitute Paulo Dybala scored a well-earned third goal after a Messi shot on goal was denied by the keeper.
The South American champions were in complete control of the game in the second half, and Lionel Messi appeared to be having a great time doing it. Messi was constantly drifting into space before either delivering an accurate pass into the feet of a teammate or driving directly at a shaken and uncertain Italy back-line. On two separate occasions, he challenged his club teammate Donnarumma, who was instrumental in preventing what would have been an extremely humiliating defeat for his side.
This was only the third time that a match of this kind had been played between the European and South American champions, with the previous two times being in 1985 and 1993. In both of those years, Argentina prevailed, beating Denmark in a penalty shootout to claim the title of European champion.