Sports

Night of heroes and villains, of Leo who is leaving and Mbappé who is arriving

DOHA — There were so many heroes. And there were so many villains. Epic night on the Lusail. A night full of drama, hysteria, arbitration terrorism, but also exquisite football. From a challenge that became personal, among the best “10” of the last 15 years, and the best “10” of the next 15 years.

Argentina lifts the World Cup. Qatar 2022. He needed a series of penalties, and that mischievous, scoundrel, but decisive character: Dibu Martínez, who weakens the spirits of others and strengthens his own.

3-3, and between the scandal, the anguish and the exaltation, the score collapsed after two extra times. Lionel Messi in a penalty and in a shot had been key. And MBappé appeared, with a marvelous shot and a penalty, so that, in the abyss of the stopwatch, bleeding to death, the score and the clock collapsed at 3-3.

A lavish night. A day that for hours returned to the Lusail Stadium and its perimeter, in the universal epicenter of soccer, and from there to infinity, the tachycardias, the microseisms, the convulsions. A Final that seemed to have no end, because one hit and the other responded.

Night of heroes and villains. Night of dreams and nightmares. Night in which the distance between glory and tragedy was defined from the eleven steps, from that stain where differences are marked between those who make history and those who end up being history.

It was said. It would be an unforgettable, historic night, because, for the first time, in several collapses, during the eternal celebration on the field, Lionel Messi, for the first time, before the eyes of the world, showed that yes, he knows how to fill his soul and eyes and the pouting, for that infinite feeling of happiness.

The pictures of Leo’s other cries were there. With his face contorted when he says goodbye to Barcelona and when he carries the ballast in a Copa América Final and in another World Cup Final. Not even winning the Copa América against Brazil, anointed him so much from that slip of mortals, like cleaning his soul with the cathartic cry of joy.

And on the other side, Kylian Mbappé, ready to take the baton. So that the sacred number of soccer is kept in good hands. The “10” is not a name day or a name, nor is it inherited, nor is it granted, nor is it bought or sponsored, it is a right and an obligation to perpetrate it with the greatness of victory… and other values.

And there were other heroes. Hugo Lloris stopped huge shells to prevent the tragedy from precipitating his dark mantle over a France that was still panting, yearning, perpetuating, at least within itself, the possibility of being a two-time champion.

Impossible to disdain Ángel Di María, generating the penalty, with all the doubts that not even the VAR can erase. And then he himself would sign the 2-0, that 2-0 that was already eating away as an epitaph, the hesitant trail of French football.

More heroes? The aforementioned MacAllister resisting on his lungs, muscles and his offensive outbursts, the weight of Argentina, even giving Di María the goal, which could well be named after him.

And that of Dibu Martínez, the bully, the pimp of his own knaves, but who becomes the Luzbel Guardian in times of suffocation and doubts from his companions. In addition to his undeniable merit on penalties, he saved another two shots with the violent artillery of a France in full revolt.

Lionel Messi, in the end, can already ask for shelter in the mystical compound, where Pelé and Diego Armando Maradona cohabit like legends. This Sunday night, he paid off all the debts. He will have little blame for the messy arbitration work.

It is the turn of Kylian MBappé, He has already stepped on podiums full of glory, but he still has minor duties pending, such as the Champions League. It will be his colossal duty to build a legacy and sponsor a new generation. In this Final, at times, France was hurt by his youth. Nothing that is not cured by 2026.

The contrasts continued at night in Lusail, in the suburbs of Doha. France paraded with the silent countenance of the loser. Argentina filled the venue with an albiceleste carnival, which reverberated to the nth degree in the corners of that inscrutable and incalculable universe that is soccer. In the ceremony, Lionel Messi is anointed as an honorary Sheikh with the corresponding tunic and fireworks explode, as the consummation of absolute supremacy.

Argentina obtains in the end, a title without more questions than a couple of arbitration blunders. Gone are the arguments of the briefcase full of dollars in the locker room of Peru in 1978, and the fact that in 1986, they did not appear for the anti-doping test at the Azteca Stadium,

Tonight, the night of Lusail, there will be no asterisks, neither for the albiceleste nor for Messi. The kiss of immortality is almost totally pure.

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