Before this World Cup, the three players fighting for the title of the ‘world’s best player’ were Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi.
As we enter the quarter-final stage in South Africa, it looks as though Argentina’s Messi is winning the race. Although he is yet to score at these finals, he has been instrumental in Argentina’s success so far and if you are to bet world cup 2010 money on Argentina to win the trophy, you just know he will be at the centre of things.
Rooney and England flopped massively at the second hurdle. Ronaldo never really got going as his Portugal team went out also at the last 16 stage. Argentina and Messi march on.
This season saw Messi at his best for Barcelona as he guided his team to the La Liga title in Spain. He has taken that form to the World Cup this summer, having underperformed in his country’s qualifying campaign.
If it wasn’t for Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, Messi could have of had a hat-trick in the opening group game, since then the theme has continued for Messi. Good goalkeeping, last ditch blocks and bad luck have so far left him frustrated. He has been essential to his team as a supplier of goals though, it would be typical of him to end this mini drought against Germany in the quarter finals as the Argentina world cup odds to win the tournament shorten all the time.
As with many talented youngsters from Argentina, Messi was dubbed ‘the next Maradona’ from an early age. Many of Argentina’s youngsters find that burden too heavy to carry; Javier Saviola and Juan Riquelme never reached the heights expected after being given the Maradona tag early in their careers. Messi has been the exception and looks as though he may have the ability to be even better than his coach.