FIFA World Cup: Day Eight column

previews the eventual England victory celebrations and weighs in on the Messi debate

Leo, Leo, Leo. The former GOAT has been dethroned. Sir Alex Ferguson once said that Messi is “just a Barcelona player” and the way that he has been found out at this World Cup is, for me, glorious. The Barcelona forward has for too long been coasting his way through matches. Ronaldo is always visible. He may go 60 or 70 minutes without a contribution, but you see him.

Long gone is the Leo Messi of old. The man who would drop a shoulder and then go past three defenders five times a match. Explosive, unpredictable, fierce. The Messi of today is a shadow of his former self. My successor, Jordan McWilliam, referenced the goal-scoring, match-winning exploits of one Cristiano Ronaldo, and just as the night gets longer and the light is less prominent from now until the end of the year, Messi seems to be on the downward trend too. Ronaldo rises again.

Onto the matches, Miles Jedinak scored yet another penalty to level score against Denmark. 1-1 was the final score, and the only real takeaway was that even with the demise of Argentina, both these poor sides are making it hard for the South American team to drop out. No Bendtner, no party.

France scraped past a Peru side who I wish had got a bit more luck. Les Bleus are looking more restricted than a Guatemalan family at the U.S. Southern Border. Didier Deschamps won’t let this unbelievable generation of talent play their football. Cutting and chopping into a Franken-formation, rating his tactical nous above the ability of Griezmann, Pogba and Dembele.

Finally, back to Messi. Croatia bossed a naïve and merely shit Argentina side. It’s not as if he is playing with a bunch of farmers. Otamendi, Mascherano, Aguero, Dybala, Higuain. All league winners. But all of them, and I mean all of them, disappeared like It as the end of Avengers: Infinity War. What a bunch of bottlers.

But let us return to the salient facts of this World Cup: it is coming home. Gareth Southgate will get a knighthood. Dele Alli will go on Strictly, Jamie Vardy will coordinate a week-long celebration with the Thames running blue with WKD.

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