Argentina player ratings vs Panama: Lionel Messi and Thiago Almada put on a show while providing glimpse into World Cup winners' present and future

Argentina Messi Panama 2023Getty

Argentina's clash with Panama was not defined by anything that happened over 90 minutes on Thursday night. Even excusing the fact that this was a friendly, the match itself had little consequence.

The result was secondary. It was the celebration that mattered and what a celebration it was.

Thursday night was about reliving 2022 months after the fact. It was about feeling the emotions all over again. It was about welcoming back the heroes that brought the World Cup home to Argentina.

And welcome them they did. El Monumental was packed and "Muchachos" rang out loud. The men that conquered Qatar were back for their first match together since Lionel Messi lifted that World Cup trophy all those weeks ago after an unforgettable and unfathomable final.

On Thursday, though, it was the youngest member of the Argentina squad and the country's most famous son that emerged as heroes, with Thiago Almada scoring the first goal in the 2-0 win. Almada's finish was followed up by a goal from, who else, Messi, who curled home a marvelous free kick to mark the occasion.

On a night where they celebrated a past triumph, Argentina offered a glimpse into a bright future for the world champions.

GOAL rates Argentina's players from El Monumental...