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World Cup 2014 : Can one-man army Messi win the World Cup for Argentina?

Sandipan Sharma, Hindustan Times   July 13, 2014
First Published: 21:05 IST(13/7/2014) | Last Updated: 00:24 IST(14/7/2014)

Lionel Messi may have heard a million times now that Argentina are the underdogs in the World Cup final. His ears may still be ringing with the applause that greeted the Germans after their 7-1 win over Brazil. And cynics may have spilled a lot of ink arguing that a one-man team can't beat a rampaging army of Germans.

To prove them wrong in the battlefield of his mind, Messi just needs to rewind to an Evening in Paris and to the two words that have a similar ring: Merci Zizou. Or, perhaps he can watch a Jim Carrey film.

A few days after France won the 1998 World Cup, more than one million grateful fans celebrated the victory at the Champs-Elysees with a huge image of Zinedine Zidane projected on to the Arc de Triomphe.

The French did not thank the Bleus. Their gratitude was reserved for just one man, the man of the match, the man Thierry Henry called God. Merci Zizou, the words accompanying the image said.

Yes, one man can do it. Zidane single-handedly changed the course of the final that night at Stad de France. Messi should believe that he too can do it tonight.

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Read: Confident Messi ready for final against Germany despite Argentina's underdog status

There are many similarities between France of 1998 and Argentina of 2014. Back then, the French were the undisputed underdogs and their rivals Brazil were expected just to turn up for the victory ceremony. The 90 minutes on the field were just meant to be a formality.

Ronaldo, the Brazil forward who was in steller form, was meant to be the chosen one that night. His anointment, just like that of Thomas Mueller or Miroslav Klose's tonight, was considered a fait-accompli.

Everything appeared fixed. But Zizou struck twice before half-time and by the time the game began after the break half of the Brazilians had gone to sleep.

The past doesn't guarantee an encore. But it gives hope. So, Messi should be dreaming of the headline: Merci Messi.

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Like the French, Argentina too are almost a one-man squad. Like Brazil, who had Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu, Germany too have an all-star cast. But one man's brilliance can destroy them.

These Germans are not invincible. In the 2010 World Cup they had reached the semifinals after a 4-0 whitewash of Argentina. Back then too, Mueller, Sami Khedira and Klose resembled warriors on horseback ready to run through their opponents. But Spain made all the German pubs close ahead of schedule and throw out their pilsners.

Finally, Messi can take inspiration from Jim Carrey.

In his 1994 film Dumb and Dumber, Carrey asks Lauren Holly what are the chances of a guy like him and a girl like her ending up together?
"I'd say more like one out of a million," his girl replies.

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Carrey's breaks into a jig, saying: "So you are telling me there's a chance... YEAH!"

Messi's odds at 1 in 11 are much lower.


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