December 17th, 2022
What a tournament it has been! What wonderful moments filled with passion, controversy, and triumph. When the tournament gets to this stage there is always drama! Always moments to boil the blood, to stir the spirit and to cement eternal glory! The semifinals of the World Cup! The biggest game of all of their lives. It is so interesting and exciting to think about how each game in succession in this tournament is the biggest game of these players lives! The first game of the tournament, then the next and then the third group stage game where the real drama begins. Teams begin to go home, filter out, and fall short. Thus, these are the beginnings of the real biggest games of careers. Even though some have made it this far in the tournament before, advancing here, now, today makes the next one bigger than the last. An interesting phenomenon, even for someone like Messi, who has played on this stage in games hugely important, this point is the culmination of everything they have ever worked for. The next one is the biggest game of all of their lives.
The semifinal! Argentina and the magic man up against the great endurance men! Croatia have always shown up to major tournaments since they began competing in them after gaining independence in 1991. However, it seemed that this match was simply one too many for them. Having never beaten a knockout opponent in the World Cup in 90 mins since the 98 tournament, it seemed that the only way to defeat the goat would be another shootout. Messi and co had other ideas. Again, the biggest game of all of their lives since its Messi’s last opportunity, probably Mordric’s last opportunity, and Messi showed up in a big way. That’s what it has to be on this stage, your heroes showing up when it matters most. Now, the game itself was one of total dominance. The midfield three for Croatia, their strength, were not at their usual heights but I thought that the midfield approach from Argentina was executed to perfection. Modric and co had lots of trouble retaining the ball like usual and Messi was able to work with impunity. Yes, the penalty was controversial but there were two other goals in this game. The defending when compared to the rest of the tournament was awful on the second goal and one of the best defenders in this tournament fell prey, like so many before him, to the wonder and skill that Messi still has. This was Messi’s game and what makes the difference for me as he compares to other players is how good those around him look. He makes others better; he makes the team better and you can see that the rest of them recognize that. There’s a unity and a drive there that makes them incredibly difficult to defeat. They deserved such a resounding win on the day and they will have nothing but confidence going into the final where they will face their toughest challenge yet.
Morocco were fan favorites, of course, coming into their first ever semifinal! The first ever African team to even make a semifinal! What a run! What a story! What a cup! This is the magic of the World Cup! What pedigree have these players found with their performances? We witnessed some of these Moroccan players literally change their lives on the international stage! I wonder what contracts are, even now, in the works for some of these stalwarts!? I absolutely loved seeing the Moroccan side go for it against the champions in the undoubtably biggest game of any of their lives! No fear, they tried to play through France’s midfield! They stuck to their game, their plan and were unafraid of the might that the French juggernaut have in bunches. Despite giving the early goal, they fought like warriors, battled like champions. This is why I love the game so much! These guys are my 4 The Badge team of the tournament without question! Absolute heroes who refuse to lay down and die had to be put down by a superior team! This wasn’t a case of France did this or France did that or Morocco got this wrong…No! This was a case of a better team simply doing what they needed to do to win the game. It was a difficult and tough match for the French, all credit to them of course for the win, but I stand and applaud the wonder and the magic that Morocco brought to this tournament. Heroes, one and all, they should leave Qatar with their heads held high! History makers! Giants who have cemented their name into World Cup lore and will forever be remembered. Names that will inspire and bring warm memories not just to Moroccan fans but to fans of the beautiful game for years to come!!!