‘The bond we have is beautiful’: Lionel Messi pays tribute to Argentina fans | WC 2022

Lionel Messi hailed the “beautiful” bond between Argentina’s players and fans after marking his 1,000th professional appearance with a matchless performance, which included a sublime first goal, in the nervy win over Australia.

Argentina’s games have resembled home games in Qatar, their fans turning stadiums into pulsating cathedrals that inevitably break into full card worship of Messi. But the whole team was serenaded long after full-time, even after a stop-start performance, and Messi highlighted the power of a relationship that seems to be growing with every game in this tournament.

“The union and bond we have is something beautiful and that’s what the national team should be,” he said. “It’s amazing how they live every match, how they transmit passion, energy and joy. We are grateful.”

Messi described the victory, which was made more difficult after Craig Goodwin’s shot was deflected off Enzo Fernández, as “taking another step forward, achieving another goal”. Of Argentina’s late jitters, he said: “That’s the World Cup for you, the games are difficult.”

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni pointed to the turnaround of less than 72 hours between their group game with Poland and this assignment. He said his players would “sleep so late” as a result of their outings, but described them as “born to play these games”.

This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

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This is a World Cup like no other. For the past 12 years, the Guardian has reported on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is brought together on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football website for those who want to delve deeper into the issues off the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.

Photo: Caspar Benson

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Scaloni was looking forward to the quarter-final against the Netherlands, which is a repeat of the countries’ classic meeting at that stage in 1998. “Probably they don’t play as beautifully as previous Dutch teams, but they have strengths and weaknesses that we will try to use,” he said. – It will be a beautiful match with two historic national teams. We hope we qualify.”

Graham Arnold was left to lament his underdogs flirt with a seismic shock. Had Garang Kuol not been thwarted by Emi Martínez with the game’s last significant move, they would have completed a two-goal comeback and taken proceedings into extra time.

“It’s about making the nation proud and I’m pretty sure we did that,” he said. “Before we got here, everyone said we’re the worst Socceroos team ever to qualify for a World Cup and the worst Socceroos team ever. That’s gone now. We’ve done exceptionally well.”

Nevertheless, Arnold admitted that he regretted it. “It’s probably the way I am, but even though we succeeded, I feel like we failed tonight,” he said. “It wasn’t enough to get to the last 16 – I wanted more.”

Arnold’s contract is up and he doesn’t want to be drawn on the future, focusing first on an imminent holiday. “I haven’t had any thoughts about it,” he said. “I need a break, I want to rest and without a doubt I want to have good discussions with the organization.”

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