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World Cup champion Argentina returns home to a jubilant Buenos Aires

The airplane carrying Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad arrived in a jubilant Buenos Aires in the early hours of Tuesday, as the the country holds a national holiday to welcome home captain Lionel Messi and the triumphant team.

Among the crowd of journalists and officials waiting at the runway, many broke into loud song as the plane came to a stop, the pilot seen throwing open his cockpit window to hang out an Argentine flag. Cheers erupted and a band played as Messi emerged from the plane and stepped onto a red carpet, holding the trophy aloft.

Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to line the streets of the capital later on Tuesday for the team’s victory parade following their thrilling penalty victory over France in Qatar on Sunday.

The team will first spend the night at the Argentine Football Association’s training ground, according to state media agency Télam.

Crowds of supporters had camped out at the training site on Monday ahead of the team’s arrival, with photos showing fans spilling out of cars parked on its grounds. Some laid on blankets on the grass while others lounged on picnic chairs around coolers.

The team’s highly-anticipated return continues several days of nonstop celebration across the country and among fans overseas, following Argentina’s explosive win against France.

Superstars Messi and Kylian Mbappé faced off on the pitch, in what has widely been called the greatest World Cup final of all time.

Mbappé was defending France’s 2018 win at the tournament in Russia, while 35-year-old Messi was playing in his final World Cup match, looking to claim the trophy which had eluded him for so long.