The Qatar tournament in 2022 will, in all likelihood, be do or die for Lionel Messi at the World Cup. Father Time is knocking softly as the Argentinian maestro enters the final straight of a glittering career.
He is arguably the greatest club player, with a mindboggling haul of over 40 trophies. The trophies, coupled with his seven Ballon D’Or awards, reinforce his almost superhuman dominance of the game.
World Cup Blues
Messi has flattered to deceive in four World Cups despite these accolades. 2014 was heartbreaking, as all Argentinian dreams were shattered in the closing minutes of a pulsating final. He ultimately received the crown of the player of the tournament, scant consolation for a man who someone who has won almost everything.
Argentina’s failings at World Cups are complex: there is an overreliance on the brilliance of Messi. A lack of squad depth was also telling. Many of the Albiceleste’s best players fell short of establishing regular places in Europe’s top-flight leagues.
The Shadow of Diego Maradona
The failures are exacerbated by the legend of Diego Maradona, Argentina’s other football god. He may not have had the spectacular club career of Messi, but he won the 1986 World Cup and almost repeated in 1990. His recent passing was a national tragedy. As a result, grieving Argentinians still regard Maradona as the gold standard of greatness. The comparisons between the two stars are inevitable. Unfortunately, every Finals exit raises the specter of Messi’s shortcomings to Maradona, whether fairly or not.
Glimmer of Hope
There is hope for the Qatar tournament in light of Messi’s first international trophy in 2019, the Copa America. The match followed a masterful ‘Finallisima” performance over Italy, which vindicated the methods of Lionel Scaloni. The strict tactician has provided stability and direction to a more settled team. As a result, the situation is a far cry from the chaotic scenes in 2018, where they were utterly humiliated by the French.
35 Games Unbeaten
This newfound belief has translated on the pitch where Messi and his compatriots are on a 35-game unbeaten run. Two shy of the Azzurri’s mark of 37, Argentina is on the cusp of greatness.
Confidence is sky-high, particularly given the current sizzling form of Messi for PSG after a season of mediocrity. He has finally settled in Paris, forming a deadly trident with Mbappe and Neymar, to devastating effect.
Do or Die For Messi at World Cup
Messi’s sojourn To Qatar is one of quiet confidence. Argentina is placed just below Brazil and France, the two red-hot favorites. They join other pedigreed nations like England, Germany, and Spain in one of the most contested Finals ever.
His career arc has come full circle. Barcelona took a gamble on a slight 13-year-old, offering him the growth hormone treatment needed for his development. They honed his skills at the famed La Masia Academy. The rest is history. During this time, he rewarded the club with 35 major trophies.
His final tilt at soccer immortality starts on the 20th of November. The scorching heat of Qatar will provide the perfect backdrop for the game’s ultimate showman.