‘Every match was a final for us’

Lionel Messi was all praise for his team who have risen from the ashes after the opening loss against Saudi Arabia to seal a berth in the final after defeating Croatia 3-0 in the semi-final on Tuesday.

‘The first match was a hard blow. For us to start this way was hard, we didn’t think we would lose against Saudi Arabia, it was a test, but we proved how strong we are,’ Messi, his country’s record World Cup scorer with 11 goals, said.

‘It was very difficult because every match was a final for us. We were aware that if we didn’t win it would be more complicated.’

Messi has inspired his team with every match and is now joint top-scorer with Kylian Mbappe — his club team-mate at Paris St Germain — with five goals in the tournament. His twin assists and a goal in the semi-final saw him bag another man-of-the match award.

‘We played very well, we prepared to play this way because we knew we wouldn’t have the ball and would need to run in this match. So we prepared for this match in a very good way. As we always do.’

‘Personally I’m very happy, I’m enjoying it a lot and I’m happy that I’m able to help my squad make things happen,’ said Messi, who levelled with Germany’s Lothar Matthaeus as the joint record holder for most World Cup appearances with his 25th game.



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