One cannot talk about football without mentioning Lionel Messi’s name. That is the kind of impact that the Argentinian has created.
In the Round of 16 match against Australia, Messi’s direct free kick from the right was deflected by Matt Ryan but Argentina kept the ball near the penalty area. Mac Allister played a pass to Otamendi but he failed to collect it cleanly. By then, Messi had swept in beside Otamendi in the penalty area and curled the shot past Ryan to put Argentina ahead.
Earlier, with a spectacular long range strike in the second group game against Mexico, La Pulga kept Argentina’s knockout hopes alive in the ongoing Qatar World Cup. The Argentina playmaker has nine goals in 23 matches at the quadrennial showpiece.
With 169 appearances for his country, Messi has scored a whopping 94 goals since he made his international debut in 2005.
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The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner boasts an excellent record in World Cup qualifiers. In the 60 qualifying matches that he has featured in, Messi has found the back of the net 26 times and has 10 assists towards his name.
In the all-time World Cup top scorers list, it is hard to find the Argentinian legend’s name. At an average of 0.32 goals per game, he is placed way down at 38th place. Germany’s Miroslav Klose tops the list with 16 goals in 24 World Cup matches.
Messi, 35, is now at the brink of his footballing dawn, and the Qatar World Cup could well be the forward’s one last dance in the multi-nation event.
Messi has recently spoken like a man who finally accepts he cannot go on forever.
“I’m lucky to be able to be at this World Cup at 35 years old,” the Argentine told DirectTV in October. “After this World Cup, we will see what could happen with my career.”
Argentina starts its World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22. Placed in group C, La Albiceleste will also take on Mexico and Poland later in the tournament.