By Rashmi Goel

Messi once again displayed his magic during the semifinal match against Croatia. With a 3-0 victory over Croatia, Argentina advanced to the world cup finals. Having scored a penalty from the spot, the great number ten may once again find himself in the spotlight. One game away from winning the World Cup, Argentina has the best player of his generation, possibly the best ever. As Messi scored Argentina's first goal, also on a penalty kick, and assisted on Argentina's third goal in Argentina's 3-0 semifinal victory over Croatia, runners-up four years ago. The moment the final whistle sounded, Messi bent over, placed his hands on his knees, and smiled. The final will be played on Sunday between Argentina and either Morocco or France, who are the defending champions.

Aside from winning Champions League titles and setting scoring records, Messi has also won seven Ballon d'Or trophies, the most of any player in history. The light-blue-and-white-striped version of his No. 10 jersey has become an emblem of the sport and can be found in almost every city in the world. For all of Messi's accomplishments and accolades, one gap remains on his glittering résumé: the World Cup. With Messi, Argentina has made just one final, and in 2014, they faced a German team that was a whirlwind of activity. The Golden Ball, given to the best player in the tournament, was a small consolation for Messi. The 35-year-old Messi has openly acknowledged how badly he wants to win this World Cup, which is expected to be his last.

"Well, here we are, what's going to happen? This is my last one, how's it going to go?" Messi said in an ESPN interview before the World Cup began. "While I am eagerly awaiting its arrival, I am also anxious for it to go well." The shock loss to Saudi Arabia in the opening game has now become a distant memory. There have been no losses for Argentina since then, and the team has outscored its opponents by 11-3. Messi has scored five goals and assisted on three others in Argentina's 12 goals at the tournament. Currently, he is tied with Kylian Mbappe of France for the most goals and is one of four players with three assists. The World Cup has been a very rewarding experience for me," Messi stated. The experience is very enjoyable to me, and now I am able to help my entire squad to achieve success."

It was evident in the win over Croatia. A penalty kick by Messi in the 34th minute was impossible to stop, even when Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic dove the right way. This was Messi's third penalty goal at this World Cup. As Messi dribbled to the edge of the box in the 69th minute, he danced around Josko Gvardiol. In spite of the fact that Gvardiol has been among the best defenders of the tournament, Messi turned him sideways, toying both with the ball and Gvardiol before he cleared the field. Running to the edge of the 6-yard box, he crossed the ball to Julián "lvarez" who was in front of the goal and just had to tap the ball in to give Argentina a 3-0 advantage. It is unnecessary to expound in great detail on Messi's qualities, according to Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic. "He is very good and dangerous. He made a difference in the quality of the Argentina team. Now, and even if this is his last World Cup, maybe for many years to come."

Messi has inspired children all over the world, but none more so than those in Argentina. At the age of 12, Alvarez got a photo taken with his longtime idol, and now, 10 years later, he plays side-by-side with him. Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni praised Messi's performance. "His goal is to give everything he has on the field." The whole team is motivated to do so, not simply by the Argentina fans in Qatar but also by the Argentina supporters at home.

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