BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Argentina's media heaped praise on Lionel Messi and the national team after the Albiceleste's dramatic penalty shootout victory over France in the World Cup final on Sunday.
"Hug one another, shout it out loud, cry. We are world champions after the most exciting final in history," online sports outlet Ole said.
"Later there will be time to analyze why we had to suffer so much. But what does it matter now? From Qatar to La Quiaca. From north to south and from east to west of the planet, those who wanted Messi to win got their wish. Those who dreamed of ending the 36-year wait [since Argentina's last World Cup triumph], need not wait any longer."
Ole said an oft-repeated chant among Argentina's fans in Qatar that includes the line, "We'll be champions, like we were in '86," could now be laid to rest. "That no longer applies," it said.
Newspaper La Nacion described Argentina's third World Cup title as a "proud coronation" of Messi's career.
"Messi's team won the best final in history and secured a place in football legend," it said.
The newspaper published several images of fans celebrating at Buenos Aires landmarks such as the Obelisk and the Plaza de Mayo.
"There has been fervor for three-time champions Argentina, a sea of tears and euphoria in a party that reached all corners of the country," it said.
Hannibal Greco, a La Nacion columnist, analyzed Messi's transformation from a fast and nimble forward to an experienced attacking playmaker.
"He has changed from a machine that dribbled past everybody to an artist who chooses has places and moments to leave his mark," Greco said. "He also cited a quote from Argentina assistant coach Pablo Aimar, who has said that Messi keeps on improving, even at the age of 35.
"The best version of Messi is the latest version," it quoted Aimar as saying. "That's the plain truth," it added.
Nahuel Lanzillotta from Clarin also alluded to Messi's ability to deliver when he was needed most in Qatar.
"Messi was the sum of all the Messis, to be a truly complete player and fulfill his dream," Lanzillotta said.
"Lionel Messi did it. After one of the most vibrant and anthological finals, he was finally able to lift the World Cup. The best of all has the title that he was missing, the one he wanted the most, the one that made him lose sleep the most."
Meanwhile, an online poll conducted by Ole, asked the question, 'Is Messi now better than Maradona?', to which 46% responded with a "yes" and 14% with a "no". Some 40% rated the players equally.
Ole also had an interactive map showing the Argentina squad's return trip to Buenos Aires, via Rome, in real time. ■