History was ready to be written. His name was set to be up in lights. The shadow of the previous icon was about to disappear. Lionel Messi was going to cement his place as one of the all-time greats and potentially make himself the greatest. All he had to do was win the World Cup for Argentina.
Unfortunately for Messi, he came close but not close enough. He did have his moment, one huge moment. The ball was controlled, a second touch was had to set himself, the third touch was the shot – it should have ended in the back of the net. Instead, it went wide and hit the hoardings behind the goal.
Messi, one-on-one with Manuel Neuer, inside the penalty area, but no goal; instead a wasted opportunity, an opportunity he may never get ever again. The Argentina number ten didn’t deliver the World Cup like his nation craved and the Brazil nation feared but did he have that disappointing a campaign?
The sponsors didn’t think so. Even the great man himself appeared embarrassed when awarded the Golden Ball – the accolade given to the best player of the tournament. Messi scored four times in Brazil and statistically was exceptional. He produced magical moments in the World Cup but pivotally; he didn’t produce them when his country really needed them.
The four goals were all important to La Albiceleste, the decisive second against Bosnia & Herzegovina, the last minute winner against Iran and a brace against Nigeria in a 3-2 win. All four, though, were in the group stages when Argentina should have already had enough to progress without needing Messi magic.
The knock-out phase was when the true world class performers would come to the fore and deliver for their side and in Messi’s defence, he did deliver a moment of genius to see of Switzerland in the last 16. Penalties were looming when in the 118th minute the 27-year-old skipped past one challenge, drew defenders close and placed the ball perfectly for Ángel di María to curl into the net.
Messi didn’t score the goal but he played a huge part in it. In the quarter-final’s Messi didn’t have his greatest match but he was still probably man of the match against Belgium, that demonstrates his greatest. And perhaps it is his consistent greatness that we have come too accustom too. How can you become immune to pieces of genius play and unappreciative of exceptional play?
You can’t… can you? It feels like you can’t but perhaps that is what we have felt in regard to Messi’s performances in this World Cup.
The Argentinean has been pretty spectacular and yet people seem disappointed and everyone felt he didn’t deserve to be voted the best player of the World Cup. They are all probably right, Messi didn’t deserve to be voted best player but he was pretty darn good and no matter how special, how talented, how exceptionally gifted he is. We shouldn’t take his wizardry for granted, like we are.
There will be a time when Messi doesn’t grace the football pitch and though that is years away maybe we should start appreciating the World Cup runner-up, rather than looking for the next achievement he must accomplish to be considered a great, lets just accept him as a great; accept his record and enjoy the displays.
When he doesn’t perform don’t put it down to him losing his touch, bottling it on the big stage and just to an insane player for once not reaching his optimum. And then when he does reach his optimum, enjoy it and not contemplate why he can do it in now and not then. Messi is a genius and the genius had a great World Cup, he would have wished it was better and his adoring fans would have wished the same but nevertheless it was incredible and it produced moments we will never forgot.
He was very good in the 2010 World Cup as well but that seems to be largely forgotten because he only scored once and even though he scored four times in this competition, people will inevitably talk about what he didn’t do rather than what he did achieve. Enjoy Messi whilst you can, he still has a number of years left at the top and could even go one better in four years time in Russia, you never know, but he won’t be around forever.
One day people will talk about Messi like Maradona and Pele are discussed and though he isn’t a World Cup winner like them, he is a genius and a genius deserves to be lauded, not lambasted.
Messi is a great and greatness should be celebrated. Celebrate the Argentine because when he is gone, YouTube will never recreate how much of a genius he was.