For Lionel Messi and Argentina, nothing has been done yet.
You all witnessed the tension and anxiety we felt against Mexico up until our goal, as well as the relief we felt at the final whistle after our 2-0 victory.
After our defeat to Saudi Arabia, we were under a lot of pressure, and everyone was relieved, including Messi and the entire team as well as all of our supporters here.
In what would have been his last World Cup, Argentina’s elimination in the group stage would have been terrible and painful.
However, we are not yet in the last 16. To ensure that we make it, we must win again, this time against Poland.
It won’t be easy, and the team still has a long way to go, but after beating Mexico, hopefully, we will feel more confident.
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Naturally, we always have Messi. We are confident that we will be able to rely on him once more in Qatar given how many times we have done so.
We are aware that winning this tournament will be difficult for us. But thanks to him, at least we can once more dream about this Argentina team.
“I know how much the World Cup means to Messi”: I was there when Messi started his career with Argentina, and I hope he wins this World Cup.
I knew he would be a very special player the moment I saw him touch the ball during our first training session for the under-20 team.
Naturally, before meeting Messi, we had heard about him in Barcelona, but that was the first time he came to Argentina to play. He didn’t say much at the time, but we quickly realized how good he was after giving him a warm welcome to the team.
When he was 17 years old, he went with us to the 2005 Under-20 World Cup in the Netherlands. I was captain of Argentina, and we won the tournament together. Most of it was due to him!
Being a member of his generation makes me feel so fortunate; to have delighted in watching and playing close by him and to have imparted countless minutes to him, as a partner and as a companion.
I am aware of the hardships he has endured and the sacrifices he has made. Remember that he moved to Spain when he was only 13 years old.
Like the majority of our players, I had to leave Argentina at a young age to advance my career, and I know how difficult it was for me to adjust. However, he joined Seville as a young boy when I was 20 years old.
I know how much it means to him to represent Argentina and how badly he wants to win the greatest football trophy with us, and I am so proud of everything he has accomplished since then.
It’s always the same: Messi has to win the World Cup
Back home, there is a lot of affection for Messi right now, but that hasn’t always been the case.
After losing the World Cup final in 2014, we lost the Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016 as well.
In Argentina, this is insufficient. Reaching the final is unacceptable to some people and portions of our media. Because we had not won every game as Barcelona did at the time, Messi received a lot of criticism.
After that, he gave up and took a break from the national team to refuel, but he quickly realized how significant it was to him.
Messi wanted to come back and help us win something, even though he has won everything club football has to offer. Therefore, it was remarkable to witness him win his first major international trophy at Copa America last year.
We won it by defeating Brazil in the Maracana. It was a very special victory for us, and I loved how everyone rushed to hug Messi at the final whistle.
Even though people still expect so much from him at a World Cup, that victory relieved some of the pressure on him and stopped people from claiming that he did not play for us in the same manner as he did for his club.
It’s as if he has to win every time. Nothing else will suffice.
As a result, I am aware that he may experience mental difficulties during these tournaments; consequently, he must have the appropriate companions to assist him in relaxing.
What has changed? Messi has matured
I worked as a pundit for the BBC in Russia during the 2018 World Cup, and even from afar, A real source of concern for me was that Messi appeared to be stressed. We were eliminated early due to the team’s poor condition.
When I was with him in the Argentina team that reached the Brazil final in 2014, things were completely different. He was enjoying leading the team.
I heard Leo say before this tournament started, that the feelings he had then and the current atmosphere in the squad are similar. That is a very positive sign because it indicates that he is content and that they are still together.
I can still picture a lot of fun happening in the dressing room from my youth when I look at pictures of it now. However, there is a major distinction: Messi alone.
People had never seen him give an inspirational speech to the team before the Copa America final in 2021, and the pictures showed that he also has the leadership skills to lead this team to greatness.
The same thing happened in 2014 when Messi spoke, but he was always a little quiet and didn’t say much.
He was our captain, but Javier Mascherano took over as captain due to his character and experience. When we were getting ready for games, he was the loudest in the dressing room.
Now, Messi is the one who does that. He is more than just our best player; he is also the team’s true leader, as manager Lionel Scaloni has said many times, and he will help them get through this tough start in that way as well, not just by scoring goals.
It’s wonderful to see. He has traveled a long distance to reach this point. Naturally, anyone can move off the field and learn something new. At 35, Messi is more mature, has more experience, and is a father, but he is still an incredible footballer.
He should immediately retire if he wins this World Cup because he will have accomplished everything possible. He won’t be able to win anything left.
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