Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe hog the limelight, with good reason

“The amount of media out there…we think we’ve seen the crazy days of Neymar, Buffon and Zlatan. It just blows everything out of the water.

“Nobody could really believe it happened. When he arrived, PSG sold more shirts than ever before in 24 hours.”

Lionel Messi, who wanted to stay at Barcelona, ​​broke down in his farewell press conference.

Lionel Messi, who wanted to stay at Barcelona, ​​broke down in his farewell press conference. Credit:getty

But the crowd quickly turned on him. Messi’s first season at PSG was by no means bad, but by his own impossible standards it left a lot to be desired. For the first time in his career, he looked like a human being. Those Parisian fans who lavished his flattery suddenly thought they had been sold lemons.

“[They said] Messi is just here on vacation, he’s just walking around. There is a feeling that PSG are not buying Messi from Barca,” Thomson said.

“I don’t think people are prepared for the fact that at Barcelona he had a team that worked for him for ten years and every decision was made in consultation with him and then he came A new club, a new place for his family, he had to leave his home… It had an impact on his football, both on and off the pitch, for a Playing for a new team with a different style of play, not everything is right for you.

“Also, Mbappe is on the other side – so not everything goes through Messi because you can be 10 times faster than Mbappe and it works.”

Lionel Messi celebrates victory over the Socceroos.

Lionel Messi celebrates victory over the Socceroos.Credit:Associated Press

But this season, he’s back to his best form. Maybe it was the lure of the mid-season World Cup that brought him back to life, maybe he was finally getting over a niggling injury, or maybe Messi just settled in France, embracing the team, the league and his family. new environment. Regardless of the origin, it all falls into place: he has scored more goals for PSG in 19 games this season than he has scored in all previous competitions, and he, Mbappe and Neymar have made a living. Dread’s front line finally looks as good as it does on paper.

Messi has now carried that fiery form into this World Cup, piggybacking on Argentina in the process. Getting to the final was a tough one for them and they wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for his unparalleled touch, actions and results that only he could have imagined. They may not even be past the Socceroos yet.

There was always more pressure on him than a man could surely handle, but somehow, he did. He came here, his sixth Grand Slam final for Argentina, the last hurdle, the last hurray.

Then there’s Mbappe – young, fit, fast, powerful, charismatic and already a leader. Not only does he seem to have it all, but he has it all early on, and he has a lot ahead of him in his life and career.

France's Kylian Mbappé's star is on the rise.

France’s Kylian Mbappé’s star is on the rise.Credit:Associated Press

As Thomson says – and he knows he’s seen his incredible rise from the moment he joined Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco five years ago – it’s all part of Mbappe’s plan, born in the rough In the north of Bondy, the eastern suburb of the French capital, he grew up in a sporting family, with a father who was a football coach and a mother who was a former handball player.

“It’s a really tough suburb and a lot of the great footballers have come from there, and a lot of them were actually coached by his dad,” he said.

“From about 12 years old, he’s been raised to be this guy, the greatest player on the planet. He’s worth a lot, a lot of money. He has a personal bodyguard who follows him everywhere. He’s made all the sacrifices. His mum He was very tough on him at school to make sure he got the grades he needed so there were no skeletons or the like in the closet.He was articulate and fluent in English and Spanish.

“It’s all about making him who he is.”

But that’s not to say he didn’t grind along the way. Mbappe has also tasted defeat, failing to score in any of France’s four appearances at last year’s Euros and missing the decisive point in their last-16 penalty shootout with Switzerland. ball, and eventually they were eliminated. Until he wins the ultimate prize at club level – the Champions League – there will be a ceiling on how he is perceived – but there is an inescapable feeling that he will rise to the elite level of football history.

Mbappe and Messi have an interesting relationship; respectful but not entirely passionate. If either of them spoke publicly more often, we’d learn more, but superstars of this caliber don’t have to – in fact, Mbappe was exempted from press duties twice during this World Cup, He had previously refused to take part in a dispute with the French Football Federation as part of a dispute over his image rights.

Messi’s media appearances were brief, sharp, orchestrated and often overshadowed by unscrupulous adulation from Argentine journalists, They seem to think their job is to pass on the love of their country to himwithout actually asking him anything substantive.


Messi raved about Mbappe earlier this year, calling him a “perfect footballer” and a “beast”, but in a rare interview New York Timesthe latter expressing his intention to surpass the former.

“I always say I dream everything. I have no limits… This is a new generation. And Ronaldo, Messi – you guys will stop. We have to find someone else, a new guy,” he said .

One day, can he do it?

“It’s subjective. Can Kylian win seven Ballon d’Ors? That’s a big ask,” Thomson said.

“At the moment what you can say is that Kylian is probably the strongest and most successful footballer on the planet. He’s more like Ronaldo in style… because Ronaldo was also a quick dribbler at the start and Kylian Blows him out of the water in terms of numbers.

“But Messi…I mean, Messi’s Messi. In terms of image, he is unmatched in the world – and if PSG start enjoying Champions League success, that’s where Kylian will eventually be. . And here are the steps.”

That, and this World Cup final, this should be an eternal topic.

France vs Argentina – The lows

World Cup Final – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Doha – Monday 19 December 2am (AEDT)

Expected lineup

France (4-3-3) – Lloris; Kounde, Varane, Konate, T. Hernandez; Jomeny, Fofana, Griezmann; Dembele, Giroud, Mbappe.

Argentina (4-4-2) – Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; DePaul, Paredes, Fernandez, McAllister; Messi , Alvarez.

Three pressing questions:

Can Argentina keep their emotions in check?

As you may have noticed, La Albiceleste is a bit up in the air here – they’re looking for their first World Cup win since 1986 and hope to make Messi the winner. They’ve managed the pressure well so far, but their tempers could flare up in a vicious quarter-final victory over Holland, and you can imagine France looking to provoke them in such a game and send them over the edge. Argentina need to be smart, follow the rules and let their football do the talking.

Can Antoine Griezmann be tied up?

Understandably, a lot of attention, including on these pages, has been focused on the superstars who lead the offensive lines of these two teams, but let’s not forget the people behind them. For France, Griezmann has been outstanding in this tournament, a fluid, all-around playmaker who moves around and creates more chances than any other player… except Messi, of course. He has been compared to Zidane and Michel Platini, but also to the injured N’Golo Kante for the way he breaks up opponents’ raids. Cutting off Mbappe, Giroud and Dembele, Argentina needs to stop him.

Can Les Bleus be rid of the “camel flu”?

It is worth noting that COVID has not been a factor at this World Cup, although we seem to be in another wave – there is something else around Doha and it seems to have infiltrated the French camp. Adrien Rabiot Missed their semi-final due to “flu-like symptoms” and watched the game from their hotel, while Dayot Upamecano, who also has the illness, sat on the bench and Kingsley Coman was clearly doubtful too. They want to make sure it doesn’t spread further — the last thing you want to deal with before the finals.

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