Sunday, 22 June 2014

Messi is the difference

With nothing but winning the World Cup on his mind, Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella brought a talented deck of cards to Brazil this summer. In that deck lies a joker; the most valuable card in the deck as it ahs the potential to be a game changer, and that card is Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi was first decisive for Argentina in Brazil against Bosnia Herzegovina in their World Cup opener, and was the hero again but this time against Iran. The match, which even had Argentina legend Diego Maradona in attendance, was a stalemate at 0-0 after 90 minutes due to fantastic goalkeeping at both ends. Highlight reel saves made by Sergio Romero and Ale Reza Haghighi to keep out gonzalo Higuain and Ashkan Dejagah respectively were just a few of the spectacular saves witnessed. 

Iran defended for their lives and looked Mourinho-esque throughout the match, and given the season he had and his performances last season for Barcelona, it looked like Messi would disappear and never return into the match. This was not the case, and the Argentine proved people wrong like normal. Unpredictable like the joker, Messi received the ball at the edge of the box, and in a moment he stood out of the shadow created by the legend in the crowd and curled home the winner for Argentina, saving his country a humiliating draw and denying Iran a famous point.

Messi has always been criticised for not performing on the international stage, having scored only one World Cup goal before Brazil, and the international stage is where Pele and Maradona showcased their talent and were recognised as the best. Winning the World Cup with Argentina is said to be what will cement the Barcelona striker's place with Pele and Maradona, and this summer Messi has a good shot at the trophy. Surrounded by a fortitude of talent with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, Pablo Zabaleta and more, Messi can inspire his side to the World Cup. His rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, grabbed the headlines for his effort in carrying Portugal through the Qualifying play offs. His rival though isn't surrounded by talent like his, and having edged out the Argentine for the Ballon D'Or, La Liga top scorer, and Champions League top scorer, Messi now has a chance to outshine Ronaldo on the biggest stage of them all.

Messi has shown the desire needed to lift the trophy. The sign of a world class player is that even when they are having an anonymous and disappointing game, they can pick themselves up and produce a moment of magic that can turn the game on it's head, and Messi did just that against Iran. If the Barcelona forward can continue his form, he and Argentina can fly through and out of Brazil with the World Cup, along with knowing the Argentine captain has fulfilled his full potential.

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