Monday, 3 May 2010
Anyone who doesn’t take an active interest in football could have been forgiven in recent weeks for thinking Lionel Messi was some four-legged, turbo charged mystical deity, such was the praise lavished on the Argentinean’s shoulders.
It is true that his recent performances, particularly in the Champions League demolition of Arsenal, were spell binding and he was deservedly put on a pedestal with the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona, but the praise did get a bit hysterical in places.
With the World Cup on the horizon many then turned to the underperforming Argentina national team, and whether like in 1986 one specially gifted player could carry the rest to World Cup glory.
This ‘Messi’ effect certainly had an effect on the World Cup betting, with the odds on an Argie win shooting in on the back of his Barca performances.
But the manager-of-the-moment- Jose Mourinho dampened the spirits of those backing a shock Argentina victory. Mourinho’s tactical master class against Barca, which saw his Inter side defeat them 3-2 on aggregate to make the Champions League final, showed just how to handle the little genus - namely to stick two men on him.
Every time Messi looked to break into even a trot, he had two, sometimes three Inter players surrounding him like flies round, yeah well you get the rest.
Consequently Messi was nowhere near as effective as he was in previous games.
What has this got to do with the World Cup?
Well it means that Argentina will need to have more than one player if they are to progress in the competition. The secret of Messi is well and truly out and he can expect some close attention in South Africa. So therefore it is up to the Tevez’s and Aguero’s of this World to prove they are better than their ordinary qualifying campaign showed.
Something that is easier said than done if recent Argentina performances are anything to go by.