Notably, just weeks before hosting one of the biggest athletic events in history, the Gulf State’s sovereign wealth fund contributed $375 million to Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition, giving Qatar a stake in the social media platform.
In what may be his final World Cup game, Lionel Messi set the all-time mark for finals appearances (26) as he pursues his second chance at victory.
The 1-0 loss to Germany in the final eight years ago involved the captain of Argentina. Their attempt to win the title in Russia 2018 was then defeated by France in the round of 16.
However, Messi has led his team to the Lusail Stadium championship kickoff this time, where France will once again be their opponent. Although France’s record against Argentina isn’t great—they’ve only won three of twelve matches overall and two of three World Cup encounters—that thrilling 4-3 triumph at the previous World Cup put Didier Deschamps’ team on track for success this time around.
In fact, Les Bleus have won seven straight World Cup knockout games, only two short of Brazil’s record, as they strive to become just the third team to successfully defend their title (after Brazil in 1962 and Italy in 1938). Didier Deschamps might become the first coach to do so since Vittorio Pozzo oversaw both Italy victories in the 1930s, while Hugo Lloris might become the first player to lead a team to victories in back-to-back finals.
Other signs point to better things for Argentina: the Albiceleste defeated the Netherlands to win the 1978 World Cup the last time the two World Cup finalists had both suffered defeats earlier in the same campaign (Messi and co. were shocked by Saudi Arabia, while France fell to Tunisia). Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning coach, Cesar Luis Menotti, was the last manager under the age of Lionel Scaloni to do so.