You might disagree, but I think this is Messi’s World Cup to take… his biggest competitor for the title of ‘Best player on earth’ Cristiano Ronaldo has been eliminated, the Spanish stars that have dominated on both a club and international level for the past decade are out, and Italy is no longer a worry for him – and while there are many other great teams (Brazil, Germany, Netherlands) with many great stars (Neymar, Müller, Robben), I still think that this is Messi’s stage more so than anyone else’s.
As you might know, Messi didn’t have the best campaign with Barcelona this past year and didn’t win any medals on the club level with them. So, the World Cup is his time to not only make up for the bad year that he’s had at Barca, but also play well enough to prove that he’s worthy of praise on the world stage similar to that that he’s gotten on club level. Furthermore, it’s his chance to shut up all the critics that refuse to acknowledge his brilliance until he wins a World Cup (or at least lead Argentina deep into the tournament).
Although Argentina were drawn into relatively easy competition in the group stage, they still managed to win all three of their games in a World Cup that proven that each and every team is a force to be reckoned with – Brazil struggled with Chile, Germany struggled with Algeria – and today Argentina struggled against Switzerland as the game went to extra time.
That said, this game’s result had huge implications on Leo Messi because there can really be no excuses for Argentina’s talent/performance – they’re stacked on offense and many of their players have had wild success on the club level this year. Di Maria won the Champions league with Real Madrid, Lavezzi won the French league at PSG – and they’re both players that are used to supporting bigger stars (Ronaldo, Ibra), so you’d imagine that their experience would translate well in that they’d support Messi as well as they do the superstars they play with on club level…
But, as we know, despite such great offensive talent surrounding him, Messi has had to take control in all three of Argentina’s group matches – he single handedly beat Iran, and had an incredible game against Nigeria to secure the three points. He also scored a crucial goal against Bosnia and Herzegovina….
Fast forward to today… Rather than be the hero, Messi dropped the ball off to Di Maria for a curling shot that won the game. Messi’s making all the right decisions in this World Cup, and their progress in this competition shows it. Furthermore, he’s stepping up when it counts most – and that’s the true mark of a superstar and leader.