The common consensus among soccer fans is that Messi wouldn’t be mentioned in the same bracket as Pele and Maradona if he didn’t win the world cup. Let’s say he doesn’t go on to win this one, it could hardly dent his legacy. The inspired display from the eight time Ballon D’or winner against the 2018 finalists Croatia in as far as I am concerned put the debate to bed in as far as I am concerned. To be blunt Messi is carrying an otherwise quite ordinary Argentina team much like Diego did for many years. That makes it all the more impressive. They were quite the second best yesterday against Croatia who bossed the game passing and possession wise. The albiceleste have evolved into a counter attacking side since their embarrassment against the Saudis , and rightfully so. They realize their limitations, that is their lack of a proper number eight who can hold the ball for prolonged periods, but they got good ball winners like Paredes and De Paul. Croatia may have the best midfield in the world right now but their lack of a proper number nine was so glaring .
The two shots on target stat paints a picture of a team devoid of ideas in the final third of the pitch. Kramaric has been a great servant for the Croatians since Mandzukic retired but he doesn’t give you lots of goals. So the long term plan should be replace the Hoffenheim man with a goal getter, not necessarily dropping him but moving him to a number 10 position. Three moments is all it took to bury Zlatko Dalic’s team. Gvardiol for all the praise of his calm and positional sense at the heart of the defense found Alvarez and Messi’s movement tough to handle. Messi needs a triple team , marking him one on one is a no no case in point the third goal. Have Argentina had the bulk for the borderline penalty decision in their favor during this world cup? I think they have and I have a theory on that. Fifa benefits in terms of attendances by having Messi go as further as possible in the world cup but it goes against the spirit of fairness. Bottom line, having Messi is good for business.Livakovic couldn’t get away from Alvarez even if he wanted to and decisions like that discourage defenders from legitimately challenging for the ball. Argentina have the cup well within their grasp but one counts their medals before they are around their neck to their own peril. France and Morocco have proven to be no push overs. Messi is one of the G.O.A.T regardless of what happens.