Lionel Messi is without a doubt one of the greatest footballers of all time. At the World Cup in Russia, the five-time world footballer will finally prove to everyone that he too can celebrate success internationally. SPOX looking back on the exceptional football player’s World Cup history.
Lionel Messi’s trophy collection is more than impressive: With FC Barcelona, the Argentine was Spanish champion nine times, Spanish cup winner six times and Champions League winner four times – not to mention successes in the Super Cups and Fifa Club World Cups.
There are also five choices for the world footballer and three more for Europe’s footballer of the year. From 2009 to 2012 alone, the striker was a world footballer four times in a row. This list is rounded off by 16 top scorer titles in all tournaments, with the season with 50 goals in the 2011/12 Primera Division 2011 prominently mentioned in chronicles about Messi’s football work. The golden boot at a World Cup is missing from his collection.
At the last World Cup, Messi was closer than ever to his dream of a World Cup. However, it was ultimately the DFB team that prevented La Pulga from hitting the big one – and not for the first time.
Lionel Messi at the 2006 World Cup in Germany: The Wonder Child
In the days before Twitter, Facebook and Co., before 2006, Lionel Messi was only known by documented experts outside Spain. The 1.70-meter small, skinny 18-year-old was taken to the World Cup by coach Jose Pekerman as a “wild card” and gave his coach confidence back.
With Messi on the bench in Argentina’s first group game, La Pulga became Albiceleste’s youngest World Cup player ever, when he came on as a substitute against Serbia & Montenegro in the 74th minute and scored. The youngster only needed a few minutes to provide his first assist and then score his first World Cup goal to 6-0 in the final.
Pekerman rewarded these achievements with a starting eleven in the last group match against the Netherlands. A tired 0-0 draw was enough for the South Americans to advance to the quarterfinals against arch-enemy Mexico as the top of the group. Messi, now back from the bench, scored the supposed winner late in a hard-fought match but was just barely offside. Thanks to an absolute dream goal from Maxi Rodriguez, the quarterfinals continued.
The hosts Germany waited there, pushing Argentina to the extreme and eventually winning on penalties thanks to Lehmann’s legendary “cheat sheet”. The prodigy Messi, on the other hand, spent 120 minutes on the bench, which Coach-Pekerman was torn with in the local press.
Messi at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: Too much pressure for a man
The tournament in South Africa was Messi’s first World Cup, where all eyes were on the global star. He was coached by Diego Maradona himself, with Messi believed to be his legitimate successor in Argentina. The period when the “hand of God” swung the scepter as coach for Albiceleste was chaotic but also entertaining for the neutral observer.
One could feel the pressure on the then 22-year-old Messi, after all the hopes of an entire nation rested on his shoulders. The year before, playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme announced he was quitting the national team. Messi got on well with him and was able to show strong performance at the 2008 Olympics. This time he had to play alongside an aging Juan Sebastian Veron and a 20-year-old Gonzalo Higuain who had difficulty scoring early in his career.
But in the first match against Nigeria, Messi also failed to score, even though he fired four shots. Veteran star Gabriel Heinze put the gauchos on the road to victory. The Barca player then had his feet in all four goals in the 4-1 victory against South Korea. He did not score himself, but Higuain scored three times.
In the quarterfinals against Mexico, it was other protagonists who drew attention to themselves. Carlitos and Higuain scored again in the 3-1 victory. Messi continued to remain goalless – and that was how it was to remain after the quarter-finals, when Argentina fell 4-0 to Germany. Messi was powerless at the DFB gala, deregistered and unable to withstand the pressure of leading a national team to the title on his own.
Messi at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: The Curse of the Knockout Phases
“You will see, Messi will bring the trophy to us, Maradona is much bigger than Pele.” The direction that the Argentine loafers set with their fan singing at the 2014 World Cup was clear. The whole of Argentina had a dream and Messi was about to fulfill it. Get the title – and of all places in arch-rivals Brazil.
First, however, Messi had to overcome his World Cup goal drought, and he succeeded in the first match against Bosnia-Herzegovina when the captain left the entire defense and netted for 2-0. In the following matches, Messi also became a hero in his home country.
He scored a dream goal in extra time against Iran and then added two more goals against Nigeria. But then came the matches where he had not scored a single goal: the knockout phase of a World Cup tournament.
First, Messi’s chronic goallessness in the knockout phase continued to be tragic as he faced Angel di Maria in the last 16 against Switzerland, who avoided extra time and drove Argentina into the quarter. For its first semi-final match, Messi could once again thank Higuain, who scored the winning goal against strong Belgians.
Holland did even better, forcing Messi and company to a penalty kick. Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder failed there while Messi converted cold. In the final, however, the dreaded opponent Germany awaited the final, which had previously sent the rival from Brazil out of the race with an impressive 7: 1.
“Show the world that you are better than Messi,” Joachim Löw told Mario Götze as he came on the field. A little later, as you know, he scored the decisive 1-0 and the gauchos around the superstar Messi were again only allowed to look and not touch the award ceremony.
Lionel Messi’s World Cup performance data
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