Do cry for Messi, Argentina

Has the world’s most talented player lost his last chance to win a world cup?

It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but as fate would have it, Lionel Messi will have to wait for four more years to take another shot at the greatest prize in the world of football. But the real question here is whether Messi will still be the best player in the world in the next world cup. For by then, Messi will be 31 years old, and in a contact sport like football, that’s old. Very few players can play their best game at that age. So for the time being it surely seems like Messi blew his only shot at winning a world cup.

The 2014 final was billed as the best team in the tournament against the best player of the world, and in the end it was the collective effort of the team that defeated the cult of a single personality. As Germany’s super-sub Mario Gotze netted that extra time goal, Messi would surely have seen his world cup dreams fly away, over the crossbar, and out of reach.

Moving through the tournament, Messi indisputably lifted his side past three challenges in the group stage almost single-handedly. Even in the knockout stages, it was Messi’s mesmerising dribbling and passing that created most of the gaps in opposition’s defences that helped the likes of Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain to score goals for their teams.

But at no point did Argentina look like a fearsome attack outfit that seemed ready to conquer the globe. It was left to Messi again and again not to just produce virtuoso performances, but to create goals out of every momentary chance. Argentina wanted their captain to lead by example, not just with words, and Messi for the most part handled this pressure with ample poise and elegance. He played his heart out and was the driving force behind Argentina’s run. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

In a top-class tournament like the world cup, a team just cannot depend on the skills of a single player no matter how great that player is. Argentina’s biggest mistake was to build their entire strategy around a single player ---- Messi. Luckily for them, it worked for the most part until they met the formidable Germans.

Despite his spectacular run, Messi’s performance on Sunday was disappointingly mundane, lacking in the thrilling execution he has provided so often before — and it has cost him the right to an undisputed seat in the pantheon of the footballing gods. Messi just couldn’t deliver on the greatest stage of all, a tragic end of the world cup for one of contemporary football’s greatest stars.

No number of La Liga titles or Champion’s League cups can fill the void that Sunday’s defeat left in Messi’s sparkling trophy cabinet. However, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner truly mesmerised fans in this year’s tournament. World cup winner or not, Messi is undoubtedly a player at the peak of his skills. It remains to be seen whether he stays as brilliant in the next world cup in Russia.

ranadityabaruah@mydigitalfc.com

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