Lionel Messi is undisputedly the best player in the world right now, and arguably the greatest of all time. The man who all of Argentina’s hopes rest upon this summer and the man who will have to carry the team in order for Argentina to achieve anything significant at Russia.
Messi’s first world cup was in 2006 and since then he’s scored five goals in the competition, in addition to countless goals in the qualifying campaign. He even won the best player award in the last World Cup but this is a look back on all his goals to reminiscence in his brilliance and give people even a hint of optimism towards Argentina.
2006 World Cup vs Serbia and Montenegro
In Germany, Messi was still a young, inexperienced teenager who had so much talent but had accomplished nothing in his career as of yet. As a 19-year-old, José Pékerman gave him his World Cup debut and he took it with style and bravado, becoming the youngest Argentine in history to play and score at the World Cup.
Messi was a shining light in a team full of stars, even as a young rookie his teammates looked to pass the ball to him at every opportunity and his quality was obvious. In a game where Argentina were rampant, Messi emerged from the bench to create a goal for Hernán Crespo within minutes and then managed to nick his first ever goal.
Operating on the right wing, Messi drifted into the inside space in typical gliding fashion. A quick interchange of passes between Hernán Crespo and Carlos Tevez, released Messi, who took a touch with his left to set the shot up and slotted it under the keeper with his weaker foot. The first of many moments of brilliance.
Unfortunately, Pékerman restricted Messi to a peripheral role off the bench for the rest of the tournament and that was the last of his goals at the 2006 World Cup.
2010 World Cup
In a shambles of a tournament for Argentina, Messi struggled to make his mark under the incompetent leadership of Diego Maradona who was clearly unfit for the role. As a result, the team didn’t showcase its quality and Messi was unable to save Argentina from a humiliating quarter final exit against Germany.
2014 World Cup vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
Eight years on from his first apperance, Messi was now the unchallenged star of the Argentinean team. He was the main creative force as well as carrying the burden of scoring goals. Basically, Messi had to do everything in the attacking third. He didn’t disappoint.
The first game in the group stage for the Albiceleste, and they really wanted to make their mark on the tournament. Leading due to a Sead Kolasinac own goal they were struggling to break down a compact Bosnia defend, not to worry as Messi was there again.
Picking the ball on the half way line, he jinked past a defender and fed it to Higuain in an advanced position before continuing his run. Higuain returned the pass to Messi, who ran with momentum at the defence skipping past two defenders with typical impudence causing them to tangle with each other before curling it beautifully in off the post. For any other player, the goal would’ve been talked about for years but Messi was used to scoring goals like that almost on a weekly basis.
2014 World Cup vs Iran
Argentina’s second game of the group stage was against lowly Iran, should be easy right? Wrong! They struggled for chances during the game and it looked like the game was heading for a goalless draw, which would be an extremely disappointing result for Argentina. What happened? Messi saved them again.
It was the 90th minute and Argentina still hadn’t scored against Iran. Messi had been frustrated by the niggling techniques of the Iran defenders and the man marking he had received throughout the game. With the whole Iran team packed into the box he received the ball on the right, about 35 yards away from goal. He effortlessly pushed the ball past one defender then he swerved a shot that managed to circumnavigate all the Iran defenders and it nestled in the top corner of the net. Simply scintillating and you could see the joy etched on Messi’s face. Yet again, he had saved Argentina.
2014 World Cup vs Nigeria
Argentina had already secured qualification to the World Cup so this game had a very relaxed feel to it, Messi had a lot less pressure therefore he was able to mesmerise the crowd with a magical performance in which he dominated the game from start to finish. Two goals, endless skills, creative passes. Just a typical Messi performance.
In the third minute Messi picked the ball up just behind the half way line, with three defenders immediately pressuring him he released the ball quickly to Mascherano who played a beautiful through ball into Di Maria, he thrashed a shot which rebounded off the post but Messi was there after making a quick dart into the box to smash it into the roof of the net. Nigeria equalised just a minute later though.
Then with the last kick of the half, a free kick from about 30-35 yards out, in prime Messi position to the right. As always, he gazed ferociously at the goal focusing all his concentration on the kick as he stepped up. The shot floated through the air, seemingly devoid of power but Messi had connected with the ball perfectly and it flew into the top corner, the keeper didn’t even bother diving. It was as if he had placed with his hand.
He didn’t score again the tournament but his overall contribution got Argentina to the final, where they lost, again to Germany. Messi picked up the Golden ball award and his performances gained plaudits all around the world.
The complete recollection of Messi’s world cup goals serves as a reminder to how influential he can be, even though Argentina are struggling you can’t completely write them off as long as Messi is still playing.
Youssef Amin is a football writer and FM blogger. An Argieball faux expert and South American footy addict, Youssef also runs the Racing Club in English Twitter account