Messi has the stage to secure his place among the greats
By Simon Evans
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Lionel Messi can secure his place among the game’s greats with a World Cup triumph after Argentina defeated the Netherlands on penalties on Wednesday to reach the final.
On Sunday at the Maracana stadium in Rio, Messi will come up against a Germany team that has ended his two previous attempts to bring his country a third World Cup title.
Messi has won everything that there is to win with his club Barcelona six Spanish league titles and three Champions League titles along with various Cups.
On an individual level he has been crowned World Player of the Year on four occasions and has broken several scoring records.
But for his country, the ultimate prize has evaded him so far. A 2008 Olympic gold medal and an Under-20 World Cup win back in 2005 are not to be dismissed but the narrative has long been set if Messi wants to be viewed in the same category as his compatriot Diego Maradona and Brazilian Pele, he needs to win a World Cup.
Maradona was the star of Argentina’s second World Cup triumph in 1986, scoring five goals and creating as many again with some memorable performances.
Pele won three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970 but while Messi’s skill and achievements at club level have put him close to the two other South American greats, he has yet to win the big one.
Messi had just turned 19 and was just coming back from injury when Argentina went out in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup on penalties to Germany. Continued...