Lionel Messi and Argentina team return to hero's welcome in Buenos Aires following World Cup win

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Argentina’s FIFA World Cup winning squad returned home with the country declaring national holiday after their victory over France in Qatar.

As Argentina’s World Cup winning squad stepped off the plane back home in Buenos Aires, thousands of fans were lined up throughout the night in the hope of seeing their triumphant stars who won one of the greatest World Cup finals of all time.

Lionel Messi led his team to victory over France which ended 3-3 after full-time and 4-2 following a dramatic penalty shoot-out with many rushing to call the final at the Lusail stadium the best final of all time. The victorious team have now landed back in their home country ahead of what is now set to be a day of celebrations in the country.

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Whichever way the trophy went, the Qatar final was set to be historic as either France would become the first nation in 60 years to win back-to-back finals or Messi would cement his place firmly in contention to be named the greatest ever footballer in the world.

Following a long night in Lusail, Messi has now picked up the final trophy left on his list and has returned home to a country full of joy and jubilation.

What’s happening in Argentina?

According to reports from the PA News Agency, members of the team, led by captain Messi, descended the plane in Ezeiza, outside of Argentina’s capital city, shortly before 3am on Tuesday onto a red carpet. Messi carried the World Cup with coach Lionel Scaloni close behind as they walked past a sign saying “Thank you, Champions.”

Argentina fans celebrate in Buenos Aires on 18 December following win against FranceArgentina fans celebrate in Buenos Aires on 18 December following win against France
Argentina fans celebrate in Buenos Aires on 18 December following win against France | Getty Images

The squad was then greeted by the rock band La Mosca singing Muchachos, a song written by a fan to the tune of an old song by the band which had become a popular unofficial anthem for Argentine fans at the World Cup in Qatar.

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Argentina then boarded an open-top bus with several stars, including the 34-year-old PSG star, seen singing the words of Muchachos as they headed to the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association. The players are now set to sleep at the AFA headquarters for a few hours before boarding the bus which will take them to the Obelisk - Buenos Aires’s landmark that was a sea of people on Sunday following the securing of the country’s third World Cup.

President Alberto Fernandez declared a national holiday on Tuesday (20 December) so the country could celebrate. The success of the country’s football team has brought much-needed good news for a country which has been stuck in economic doldrums for years. The country is also suffering one of the world’s highest inflation rates and almost four in 10 people are living in poverty.

What happened in Sunday’s final?

Following a near perfect run to the final (omitting Saudi Arabia’s famous victory over Messi’s Argentina in the first match), it was set to be a PSG showdown with Kylian Mbappe in one corner and Messi in the other. Argentina attacked straight away and following two first-half goals, they looked to be set to take the trophy after the 90 minute whistle.

However, France’s Mbappe bounced back to action after being awarded a penalty and scored two goals in just over 90 seconds to take the final into added time.

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One more goal for each squad then meant the 2022 World Cup was set to be decided by a penalty shoot-out and with the wondrous mind games of Argentina’s goalkeeper, Emi Martinez, Lionel Messi was finally able to lift the gold trophy. Mbappe, on the other hand, will console himself with being awarded the Golden Boot having scored eight goals in Les Bleus’ seven matches.

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