Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

Why Messi must perform for La Albiceleste

He has been called a “genius” by Maradona, a “sensation” by Cruyff and a “PlayStation footballer” by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

“Once, they said they can only stop me with a pistol – but you need a machine gun to stop him (Messi)”

said Barca legend Hristo Stoichkov.

After a Messi exhibition in one game last year, Real Zaragoza’s Ander Herrera went further:

“I’m not sure he’s human.”

Several superlatives have been used to describe the magical one I call MESSIah but I still have my doubts about him being ranked in the pantheon of greats due to his relative under-achievement with his national team.

Great footballers like Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and so on, excelled not only at club level but with their respective national sides.

The Rosario born footballer has stamped his authority on the global stage when it comes to club football. However, since his dominant rise in the game, he hasn’t been able to replicate such form for La Albiceleste, which has permitted a few critic like myself to suggest that his Barcelona’s team mates (Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta) are the secret behind his success in Catalonia.

Are they the secret behind his “success”?

Messi started off his international career at the junior ranks winning the FIFA u20 World Cup in 2005 then he quickly established himself in the senior ranks but it’s there that he has found very little or no success at all. He was a member of Jose Pekerman’s side to the 2006 FIFA World Cup that lost to Germany in the quarter finals and he experienced a deja-vu as a ruthless counter attacking German side crushed a  helpless Messi led Argentina 4-0 in Cape Town during the last World Cup. Venezuela was the venue of the last Copa America in 2007, La Selección were the most impressive team in the tournament playing impeccable football until Dunga’s Brazil humbled  Leo Messi and his compatriot 3-0 in the final.

Downcast Argentine Messi versus Rejoicing Barcelona Messi

Despite comparism with legendary Maradona, the 24 years old hasn’t inspired the national team to glory yet.With a staggering club statistics of 180 goals in 269 appearances, he has only managed 17 in 58 appearances for the national team.

The two time Ballon d’or winner will need to improve his form and raise his game to the next level during this Copa America which they (Argentina) are hosting.

Many have tried to shift the blame off him with comments that his national team coaches have not found the right balance for him to play. Before now, Juan Roman Riquelme used to be the team’s fulcrum during the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2007 Copa America but former national team coach, Maradona built his ill fated 2010 World Cup side around Messi  and they failed together. Sergio Batista is embarking on the same course with a different approach as he has recalled some stalwarts back to the side.

With the crowd solidly behind them at home, Messi is expected to replicate his Barcelona form in La Albiceleste shirt and lead them to their first international success since their 1993 Copa America triumph in Ecuador.

July 24,2011 may be the day the whole of Argentina have been waiting for 18 years. Do you think Messi will deliver this time for the La Albiceleste?