In Messi I believe!
It has been a long time coming. Since Euro 2008, the Germans have been hovering around the edges of supremacy. Their only crime being that Spain, forever the underachievers had been pegged by fate as its darling. What Jürgen Klinsman started at World Cup 2006 resulted in a finals defeat to the Spanish in Euro 2008, a semi-final defeat to the same opposition at South Africa 2010 and the Italians in the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
This time, however, the Spanish have been vanquished by their own doing. The once-famed Brazilians have been annihilated in an absurd seven minute stretch of play that will linger on as a scar on the creators of the beautiful game for decades to come. All that stands in the way of the well-oiled German machine is undoubtedly the greatest player of our generation, Lionel Messi, and the man mountain who has his back for club and country, Javier Mascherano. In theory, Argentina should equate to far more than the sum of these two parts; however, to date in this tournament, this reality has failed to transpire.
Joachim Low’s Germany are the favourites – make no mistake about this. To the casual observer, it may then seem apparent that all the pressure is on Philipp Lahm and his compatriots to finally come good but that would belie an ignorance of what a finals victory would mean for Messi. There is a popular saying in Argentina; perhaps some of you have noticed it on the placards held aloft by the supporters,
“Francis is pope, Messi is king, Maradona is god.”
While his achievements for Barcelona may outshine those of Diego Maradona’s club career, greatness is only truly bestowed upon those fortunate few who hold aloft football’s greatest prize. For all his Golden Boots, World Footballer of the Year awards, ridiculous dribbles and accompaniment of goals, the shadow of Maradona’s World Cup victory in 1986 still looms over the diminutive Argentinean.
It makes no difference that Diego went on to bring the game disrepute and shame after he was caught doping not once but twice – the second time in the midst of the World Cup in the United States. He captained his country to victory in 1986 and won the golden boot while doing it and for that Messi will always suffer in comparison; at least in the eyes of his compatriots.
Since the age of Maradona and Pele, there have been many pretenders, yet there is significant belief that it is Messi’s destiny to eclipse these two icons, and stand aloft as the greatest footballer the world has ever seen.
For now, it seems as though fate could trump destiny. The Germans will arrive in Rio as confident as they have ever been. Thomas Müller is on fire, Miroslav Klose is now the record holder for goals scored at World Cup finals, Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels are the rocks at the back and we haven’t even given any thought to Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Lahm and company. All of this versus a player who didn’t have a single touch in the penalty area in the semi final with the Dutch.
Fate seems more guaranteed of success this Sunday night. It seems only inevitable, while destiny appears more filled with promise that may or may not come to pass. However greatness is defined by those individuals who solely believe that fate has brought them to this moment and that destiny demands of them this service. Messi may not be enough on Sunday but make no mistake about it, we are in for one heck of a show.
Final prediction: Head says Germany, heart says Argentina.
Conclusion: In Messi I believe.
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