Messi’s Chance to put to rest the GOAT debate as Argentina kicks off World Cup campaign today

1. When Lionel Messi pipped Cristiano Ronaldo the previous year winner in 2009 Ballon d’Or ceremony held at France to lift the coveted trophy for the first time in his career, no one knew that it would set the tone for next one and half decade of tussle between the two football’s phenomenon to win the Ballon d’Or prize and start the debate of “Greatest of All Time” for the first time in over half a century without Brazilian legend Pele and the Argentien magician Diego Maradona as the part of the debate.
2. Since then Lionel Messi has won Ballon d’Or a record seven times twice more than the Portugese sensation. Though Messi has won a plethora of titles at club level with Barcelona and recently with PSG a trophy with Argentina eluded the maestro for over 16 years of senior team football with his country finally laying hand on Copa America in 2021. The one jinx in the puzzle remains and that is Fifa World Cup. Messi lost the chance to lift the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 losing out to Germany in the final. If Messi lifts the Jules Rimmet trophy this year the debate may be settled once and for all.
3. The Argentine national side is probably the most balanced and perfect mix of players in all departments in recent history of Argentina to go all the way in the tournament. Argentina has remained unbeaten and convincingly won eight of the nine games leading to the world cup opener against Saudi Arabia. Lionel Messi is in fine form and must look to add to his six World Cup goals scored in previous editions. Argentina finished second among all teams in CONMEBOL table behind Brazil in the World Cup qualification stage. They’ll be looking to top their group this time and face group D runner-up in Round of 16.
4. Saudi Arabia topped their group ahead of Japan in the qualifiers but have had mixed results leading to the World Cup losing three and drawing five of the last ten international friendlies. The Green Falcons are facing their toughest opponent of the group in their first game and will be looking to turnaround a record of four out of five losses in World Cup openers so far. The task at hand is difficult where in Abdulelah Al-Amri and Yasser Al-Shahrani looking to contain a free scoring Argentine forward line comprising of Messi, Angel Di-maria and Lisandro Martinez. Firas Al-Buraikan must play out of his skin and weave some magic to score past a solid exuberant Argentina defense to get some positive result out of the game.
5. The prediction for the game is a comfortable win for Argentina with Lionel Messi and Lisandro Martinez finding the back of the net. For me Argentina 3 – 0 Saudi Arabia.