At 26 years of age going into the 2014 World Cup – this could well be Lionel Messi’s World Cup.
The Argentina talisman turns 27 on the 24th of June and an overview glance of Messi’s career proves that the Brazil tournament is the one he has to take by storm.
In 2006, Messi had burst on to the scene and was under used by the then Argentina coach Jose Pekerman.
Four years later, Argentina were coached by Diego Maradona, a legend of the game but not necessarily the finest tactician.
And, in four years time, Messi will be in his 30s and who knows what condition he will be in for the Russia World Cup.
This tournament is in South America, Argentina have a group phase that looks favourable and a squad of players that can build themselves around Messi.
Below are five reasons why we believe Lionel Messi is a sure fire thing to finish the 2014 World Cup as top goal scorer.
1. Group F looks very winnable for Argentina. Lionel Messi and his team mates should have no problem brushing past Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria. Of course the pressure will be on Alejandro Sabella’s side but they will surely have too much for three sides that would simply be happy to progress from the groups.
With the likes of Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero (Messi’s preferred strike partner in world football) and Ever Banega in support, Argentina will almost certainly run riot.
2. Winner of Group F plays runner-up of Group E. Presuming Argentina win the group, Lionel Messi and co. look set to face Switzerland or Ecuador. Another very winnable match and one where Messi should get amongst the scorers again. So that’s four matches where Messi should trouble the scorers in 360 minutes of football.
It may well be foolish to predict who Argentina will face in the quarter-final with so many varied outcomes but the fact the tournament is in South America and Sabella’s side will have plenty of support should also be factored in, especially in the later rounds.
3. Lionel Messi is now a serial goal scorer for Argentina. For many years it was claimed Messi was no good for his national team without the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves at club level. Over the past couple of years this has all changed.
Messi’s glorious hat-trick for Argentina against Brazil in New Jersey in June 2012, was where the myth was finally dispelled. And, the Barcelona forward has been smashing in the goals left, right and centre ever since then.
Five goals in Lionel Messi’s last three matches for Argentina pretty much says it all.
4. Messi appears to be fully fit and has been readying himself for Brazil 2014. Between November 10, 2013 and January 8, 2014 Lionel Messi did not play any football for club or country.
Without ever announcing it to the world, Barcelona effectively said we will give Messi a rest to prepare him for the end of the club season and a World Cup that will likely be career defining.
For a world star like Messi a break like this is almost unheard of and is another advantage for “The Flea.”
5. Lionel Messi’s “worst season in memory” is still awesome. At the time of writing Lionel Messi has scored 41 goals in 44 appearances. And, his brilliance has almost been hidden by previous seasons where the Barcelona attacker made the impossible look easy.
Messi is also comfortably the top La Liga goal scorer in the second half of the season and it is only our expectations that have raised the bar so high.
Factor all of the above together, and you will be gutted that you didn’t back Messi for top goal scorer when he wheels away in celebration after yet another goal at World Cup 2014.