Ever since Lionel Messi stepped into the world of professional football he has had to contend with the burden of being viewed as the second coming of the legendary Diego Maradona.
An Argentine fan holds an image of Lionel Messi and former footballer Diego Maradona depicted as saints, during their World Cup Group F match against Nigeria at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre. (AFP Photo)
Maradona is considered by many as the greatest player who ever lived. And the world got to see him at his peak in the 1986 World Cup. His contribution to Argentina's triumph has been generally considered as the best in history by a player in any World Cup.
Messi's success in club football is unparalleled, netting 354 goals in 425 games for Barcelona and helping them win three Champions League crowns. The one thing missing though had been a stellar performance in sky blue and white at the grandest stage of them all.
A World Cup conquering performance is an instant ticket to immortality; just ask Pele, Maradona or Garrincha. Messi has already set the stage alight in Brazil with four sublime goals in the group stages. His real challenge will come in the knockouts where there'll be no second chances. But if his form is anything to go by he looks set to eclipse Maradona's 1986 performance.