Imagine a world cup without Lionel Messi. Impossible!. Well this was almost becoming a reality on Wednesday when Argentina took on bitter rivals Uruguay in the sentenario stadium in Montevideo.
Argentina emerged victorious but only just. They needed an 84th minute goal from substitute Mario Bolatti to send them through as one of the automatic qualifiers in the South American region.
These two powerhouses of South American football have met more than 175 times with their most memorable meeting being the first Fifa final in the same stadium. Uruguay prevailed that night beating Argentina 4-2.
Fast forward 79 years later and the stakes were not any less. Argentina have not missed a world cup since 1970. Had they not won on Wednesday i do not know if this would have been good for Africa. Like i have always said we need the best in SA to make sure the level of competition remains high.
Messi is a good player and at only 22, i believe he has what it takes to pip Maradona as Argentinas best player. I know that is a very bold statement but just look at what he has going for him. His honors are truly good. U-20 world championship medal 2005, golden boot award in the same tournament. Spanish championship medal in 06 and 09, double european champions league medals in 06 and 09. Plus the Fifa world player of the year award 2009 awaits him.
Currently Barcelona’s highest paid player after signing an improved contract. Messi has a bright future ahead of him. His national side on the other hand are living dangerously.
Despite qualifying for the world cup, Maradonas boys showed a lucklustre approach in their qualifying rounds and many of their fans are skeptical of his coaching style. If Argentina do not come up with soluions to address thier problems, they will be in danger of facing an early elimination in South Africa.