Lionel Messi Put On A Show Against Italy At Wembley

Earlier this week, Lionel Messi spoke about how lingering effects from Covid-19 greatly limited his abilities with PSG in 2022. In addition to being a reminder to everyone to get fully vaccinated (and boosted), it provided context to a season that, by Messi’s supremely high standards, was awful, with just six goals. 

Messi looked the picture of health on Wednesday.

Playing with youthful energy, veteran nous and a desire to win another trophy for Argentina, Messi inspired La Albiceleste to an impressive 3-0 win over Italy in the Finalissima on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium in London. The competition was a Cup of Champions between the winners of Euro 2020 and the 2021 Copa América to crown a sort of de facto world champion, though as champion of Concacaf the USMNT would like to have a word. 

Lautaro Martínez, Ángel Di María and Paulo Dybala all scored while Messi masterminded the whole thing with two assists as Argentina staked its claim as a legitimate contender for the World Cup trophy in November. 

Messi could have had a hat trick if not for some stellar goalkeeping from Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal. Messi danced around defenders, set up teammates and ripped shot after shot toward goal. He completed four dribbles, put four shots on target and created four chances. At one point in the 65th minute, Messi picked Jorginho’s pocket about 25 yards from his own goal and dribbled the ball the length of the pitch into the Italy 18-yard box before rifling a low shot forcing yet another save from Donnarumma.

Messi looks like he’s finally over Covid-19. After the match he was hailed by the crowd and his teammates.

The chant around Messi was: “Vení, vení, cantá conmigo, que un amigo vas a encontrar. Que de la mano, de Leo Messi, toda la vuelta vamos a dar,” which roughly translates to: “Come here, come here, sing with me, that a friend you will find. That guided by Messi’s hand, the champions lap we are going to run.”

Despite a disappointing season with PSG, Messi isn’t done yet. Inter Miami will have to wait a while longer

Meanwhile, Giorgio Chiellini looks like he’s ready for MLS.

Italy’s veteran center back is reportedly set to join LAFC from Juventus this summer. He and his fellow Azzurri defenders were wholly incapable of slowing down Argentina’s attack. 

Argentina Italy Highlights — Finalissima

The first goal arrived in the 28th minute by way of Messi, of course. The No. 10 abused Giovanni Di Lorenzo on his way into the box before laying off a cross for Martínez to bop in.

It was 2-0 when Martínez burned Leonardo Bonucci before playing Di María in on goal. The winger set to leave PSG this summer easily beat Chiellini in a foot race before providing a wonderful dink past Donnarumma. 

Argentina dominated possession in the second half but couldn’t find a third goal until the 94th minute, in large part because of Donnarumma. But even Donnarumma nearly conceded on himself.

Di María nearly had the goal of the year with this incredible volley.

Eventually, Argentina found its third, not through Messi, who really wanted one, but Dybala. We’ll give Messi credit for the assist for his efforts throughout the match, though he didn’t know much about it.

Messi finally has his world title, kind of. No one will confuse this with a World Cup, but he’s definitely got the upper hand on Cristiano Ronaldo now with a Copa América title and Finalissima crown in addition to reaching the World Cup final.

Now I’ll leave you with Stu Holden’s call of Di María’s seal dribble.


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