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Lionel Messi One Win away to Immortality

by Ron Poblete

HE is the most popular superstar now in this year’s World Cup.

But did you know that  Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has not won a World Cup title?

With four goals during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Messi almost had the chance to add the most elusive trophy in his career. But he did not, as Argentina lost to Germany.

In 2016, Argentina lost again at Copa America championship against Chile. Dejected, he announced his retirement from international competition after the loss. 

It was his fourth finals loss with the national team and the Copa America loss hurts the most. 

Most accomplished individual football player

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates third goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

He has won almost every individual and club accolade one can possibly win as a professional football player. 

Except perhaps Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi has more goals, awards and championships to his name than most players to have played the game. Based on the overall numbers, Messi is clearly the best that ever was.

Among his credentials:

  • Seven Ballon D’ors, the most prestigious individual award in football. Ballon D’Ors is football’s Oscar awards
  • Two men’s player of the year by Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) 
  • Three best player in Europe’s Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)
  • 22 times top goal scorer
  • Copa America Champion
  • 10 times Spanish League Champion
  • 4 times Champions League winner
  • Olympic Gold medal

The only missing piece of hardware to put him alongside his compatriot Diego Maradona and the great Pele is a World Cup trophy.

After defeating Croatia in the first semifinal in the 2022 Qatar World Cup, he will get another chance to win the elusive prize in his second final. 

Can Team Argentina help Messi with his World Cup dream?

With a young, hungry Argentinian team which exhibited a better team spirit that was previously missing in the past years, he just might get it. 

Complementing his individual talent, the Albicelestes provided the right supporting cast to fulfill his ambition. 

The most notable of them is Julian Alvarez, who scored a double in their win against Croatia. 

The 22-year old striker was 16 years old when Messi first retired from international football in 2016. He wrote him a letter imploring him to stay. 

He was 12, when a photo of him with Messi was taken and said his dream was to play in the World Cup which serendipitously happened with him tying Pele for most goals in a semi-final game and doing it with Messi.

Alvarez was not even in the starting 11 in the group stages when the tournament began and now he might just play a big role as a starter helping his idol.

It didn’t seem plausible that Albicelestes would get this far when the tournament started a few weeks ago when Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia 2-1. But what a turnaround it has been. Messi was the catalyst to all this after he scored in a cagey match against Mexico.

The 35-year old forward has scored five goals so far tying France star Kylian Mbappe. This could possibly be his best performance yet in this tournament which are:

  • top goal scorer for Argentina in the World Cup beating the late great Diego Maradona
  • oldest men’s player to have scored 5 goals in a World Cup
  • only player to score and assist in 4 World Cup tournaments. 

If Argentina wins the 2022 World Cup, Messi will undisputedly become the greatest of all time.

The finals is on Sunday night at 11pm Manila time.



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