Lionel Messi has been given a new nickname by Argentine teammates after inspiring his side for the World Cup final

RODRIGO DE PAUL hailed Lionel Messi as ‘The Beast’ for guiding Argentina to the World Cup final.

Once again, Messi delivered when his team needed it, scoring the first goal from the penalty spot, contributing to the second and brilliantly setting up the third in a 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia.

Rodrigo De Paul (left) says Argentinian stars are calling Lionel Messi'The Beast' after inspiring their World Cup final run

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Rodrigo De Paul (left) says Argentinian stars are calling Lionel Messi ‘The Beast’ after inspiring their World Cup final runPhoto credit: Getty

Atletico Madrid midfielder De Paul said: “Luckily we have The Beast.

“We play for our country but for us Leo is our captain, our leader, he is like an older brother, I will always defend him.

“Few know what he does to always be the best and I’m very happy for him.

“After everything that’s happened, I want him to be the one who enjoys it the most. He deserves it very much.”

De Paul, 28, is also happy for all of Argentina.

Three weeks after losing 2-1 on the same pitch to Saudi Arabia in the opening game, the side earned the right to return to the Lusail Stadium for Sunday’s final against France.

De Paul said: “The first game was a hard hit.

“We locked ourselves in a room and had a very good conversation that I will always remember.

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“We had a lot of confidence and we came here to win the Copa America. After that first shot, every game was a final because we definitely had to win

“The reality is we play for the love of the colours, the jersey, our country, something that is difficult to put into words.

“But I’m sure that the many people who make up for their problems with football forget everything when they see us play.

“Making you happy is a power for us and a joy that makes us very proud.

“I’m living a dream that’s impossible to describe.

“I must be the happiest person in the world because I’m going to play a World Cup final, with my family, my girlfriend who supports me so much.

“We play for our country but for us Leo is our captain, our leader, he is like an older brother, I will always defend him.

De Paul on Messi

“We also need this support, we have a lot of problems, but when we went on the pitch with this jersey, we forgot everything.”

Julian Alvarez is also overwhelmed by what he and the team have achieved.

The young Manchester City star came into the tournament as an understudy to Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez.

But he is now the first choice to play alongside Messi and scored twice against Croatia. He also won the penalty that gave the captain the lead on Tuesday.

Alvarez, 22, said: “A lot of things go through my mind, a lot. We are all crazy

“It’s very exciting to see all this, the people, my family, everything during this World Cup was amazing.

“We deserve to be in the final. We are happy like the whole country and strive for more.”

Messi, 35, reconfirmed after the semifinals that Sunday would be his last World Cup match.

His penalty against Croatia earned him 11 goals in the finals – one more than former Argentina record holder Gabriel Batistuta. He also has three assists to bring his finals tally to eight.

But what he really wants is to emulate Diego Maradona and lift the trophy as Argentina captain in a glorious finale to his career on the world stage.

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Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi said: “What we have done is something impressive. It is the sixth final we will contest in our history.

“Beyond winning or losing, people understand that they have to have fun and that whole process in this group, to win the Copa America and now to reach the final, has been extraordinary.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6919271/lionel-messi-argentina-nickname-france-world-cup-final/ Lionel Messi has been given a new nickname by Argentine teammates after inspiring his side for the World Cup final

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