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FIFA World Cup 2018: Argentina’s Lionel Messi looks for elusive trophy

Lionel Messi will be looking to win his first international trophy when he takes the field for Argentina at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.

football Updated: Jun 02, 2018 17:37 IST
Himanshu Dhingra
Himanshu Dhingra
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lionel Messi,FIFA World Cup 2018,Lionel Messi FIFA World Cup 2018
Lionel Messi will be the biggest attraction for Argentina in the FIFA World Cup 2018.(AFP)

Country - Argentina

Position - Forward

World Cup appearances – 15

World Cup Goals - 5

If it wasn’t for Lionel Messi’s hat-trick against Ecuador in Quito, two-time champions Argentina probably wouldn’t be part of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. As important as he is to his club FC Barcelona, with whom he won the Spanish League and the Copa Del Rey in 2017-18 season, he is way more important to his country. (FIFA World Cup 2018 Schedule)

The Albiceleste have an array of talent at their disposal, but without Messi that talent just doesn’t come together in a coherent fashion and it all just falls apart. He brings a calming influence to the team which reflects in how the whole team plays when he is on the pitch.

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Starting out as an out and out striker, the 30-year old now plays in a more withdrawn role for his country, feeding the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, who play as centre forwards. Playing a deeper role allows the Rosario-born to see more of the ball and penetrate lines between the midfield and attack. His assist against Switzerland in the Round of 16 match at the 2014 World Cup is a prime example of how he can change the fate of a match in a matter of seconds.

Despite being regarded as the best footballer of all times by most of the football followers, Messi has had very little luck when it comes to winning trophies in the blue and white of Argentina. Twice a losing finalist at the Copa America, Messi came within whiskers of winning the World Cup last time in Brazil but it wasn’t to be as the team succumbed to eventual winners Germany for the third time in a row.

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The World Cup in Russia could very well prove to be the last time the striker plays on the grandest stage as he has hinted retirement from international football at the end of it.

Other teams don’t need reminding of the precocious talents of Lionel Messi as players in club colours have been suffering from that magic wand of a left foot for well over 10 years. But, they also know that if they can keep the Argentina captain quiet they can keep a lid on the team performing to their optimal.

First Published: Jun 02, 2018 17:23 IST