Can Messi’s return inspire Argentina to Copa America glory?

June 14, 2016

Lionel Messi is back and how? The genius made his return to the field with Argentina as a substitute against Panama during the Copa America Centenario and changed the game on its head with a breathtaking performance

Captain of the national side

Messi made his national team debut in 2005. His abilities were never in question but because of his age, and his inexperience at the time, it became hard for him to break in to the first team. However, within the next few years, he became an indispensible cog in the national side, helping them win a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

A turning point in Messi’s international career came when Diego Maradona was made head coach. Maradona, who has always insisted that the current number ten is his successor in the national team, decided to build the team around his prodigy. Alejandro Sabella replaced Maradona and went one step further by appointing him captain in 2011, at just the age of twenty four. Finally after years of waiting, Messi finally had the opportunity to be a game changer for his beloved Argentina.

Leading from the front

Over the last few years, the Argentina national soccer team has been ranked among the top ten sides in the world, and has enjoyed increasingly improved performances, especially in major tournaments. Even though they haven’t won a major title since their Copa America victory in 1993, they have been to the final of the last 2014 World Cup, as well as the 2015 Copa America.

Copa America Centenario-Messi Returns

A proof of Messi’s genius came in Argentina’s game against Panama, in their second match of the Copa América Centenario. Prior to the start of the tournament, Messi had injured his back and it seemed doubtful that he would start the opening game. Argentina however won that game against defending champions Chile 2-1.

In the following game against Panama, Messi once again started on the bench. However his team only managed to score one goal against a side reduced to ten men, and needed their number ten to inspire them. He finally came on to the pitch at the hour mark and seven minutes later he had scored the game’s second goal. In the next twenty minutes he would score twice more to complete his hat-trick and inspire his team to a five goal victory. Those who had been questioning the national team’s desire and title credentials before this game needn’t have worried; once again Messi proved that with him in the side, anything is possible.

Will Messi led Argentina win the Copa America?

The big question remains whether Messi’s return to the fold can inspire Argentina to win their first major international title since 1993. It has been a long wait and Argentine have gone close on numerous occasions too but they have always fallen short. Now that Messi is back with a bang, is this the year when they turn it around and go all the way?

The answer is not as clear cut as it sounds. There is no disputing Messi is a once in a lifetime talent who can change the game in an instant and lift players around him when the chips are down. Messi is in form, well when is he ever out of form? The little genius played a big part in his club Barcelona doing the domestic double of the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey. They also made it to the semifinals of the Champions League.

An in form Messi is a scary prospect for any side in the world. If Argentina, galvanize around him and other players chip in, then there is no reason why Argentina cannot win the Copa America Centenario. Soccer is a team sport. Gone are the days when one player could win teams title. In modern soccer, everyone has to play a part and if they do, then Messi and co will lift the title this year to end their long drought. The fact, their arch rivals Brazil have been knocked out of the competition, helps their cause even more.

Whatever happens, it will certainly be more than interesting to see a Messi led Argentina play for the remainder of the tournament. History might be against Argentina but with a talent like Messi leading the line anything can possible. As far as we are concerned, we think 2016 will see Messi lift the Copa America Centenario title at the MetLife Stadium on June 26.

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