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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014
Lessons Modi can learn from Messi's WC campaign
Viju Cherian, Hindustan Times
July 14, 2014
First Published: 20:19 IST(14/7/2014)
Last Updated: 13:34 IST(15/7/2014)

The curtain call at Estádio Maracanã on Sunday night put a lid on a month-long football extravaganza. The final, played between arch-rivals Germany and Argentina, was a befitting tribute to a wonderful cup - by many means the best World Cup to be held till date.

Throughout the tournament, media scrutiny along with the weight of expectation hovered over some players like dark monsoon clouds. Brazil's Neymar was one such player. Given that the World Cup was hosted in Brazil, a lot of expectations were riding on him. But an injury and the subsequent (humiliating) defeat to Germany in the semi-finals put an end to what could have been a fairytale ending.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was also one such player - but given a relatively weak team and the 4-0 loss to Germany in its first game not many expected miracles to happen.

But Argentina and thousands of football fans around the world expected miracles from Lionel Messi. While he didn't find the net as much as expected, he played pivotal roles when it mattered the most-the 118th minute dribble and pass to Di Maria against Switzerland stands out.

However, Sunday night a lone goal from Mario Götze saw the Germans lifting the Cup. A Messi bereft of emotion reflected a million shattered dreams.

Comparisons are often tricky, especially if they are across different spectrums, and preposterous as this may sound there are a lot of similarities between Lionel Messi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both are leaders of their sides and have won the hearts of their people. They captain their sides and have earned the respect and honour of their teammates.

While Messi has shown that he was born to be a footballer, and an excellent one at it, Modi has shown in Gujarat that he is a politician and an exceptional one at it. Messi's genius at league football and Modi's success story of the much-talked about 'Gujarat model' have soared expectations to such a dizzying height that each time both are expected to not just win but win in a thumping manner.

There are also lessons Modi can learn from the situation Messi found himself during the World Cup. Messi came to Brazil carrying the hopes and wishes of a whole nation and they saw in him a hero after Diego Maradona. Modi has brought the BJP back to power after a decade. In the resounding victory, the party has received lie the hopes of millions of Indians. Many see in Modi a Prime Minister like never before. Part of the victory is because of the poor show of the earlier government but majority of it is on the hope that Modi can spin the fortunes of the nation.

Predictably Sunday's defeat has not gone well with many La Albiceleste fans who are blaming Messi's poor form for the defeat. Social media is abuzz with strong views calling Messi 'selfish' and he winning the Golden Ball has not helped his case -'Messi won while Argentina lost'.

A bad monsoon, the crisis in West Asia and a dull global economy are only some of the problems that are beyond Modi's control - but, nevertheless, if he falls short of anything but spectacular the people will feel let down.

The BRICS summit, currently underway in Fortaleza, Brazil, is important on many counts as it is Modi's first international engagement after assuming office. What he takes away from the summit is important to sustain the people's hope in the 'Modi magic'. Messi left Brazil with a heavy heart. It is hoped that Modi does not follow.

It's a difficult spot to find oneself in, but it is triumph in such situations that create legends. Messi and Modi have set the bar too high and now the challenge is to live up to it.

@vijucherian

(Views expressed by the author are personal)


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