Messi the best player
By Devon Dick
Lionel Messi, Argentina's football captain, led his team to the finals of the World Cup against Germany, which ended goalless after full time with Germany winning in extra time. Subsequently, some 17 football experts, including Jamaican maestro Theodore Whitmore, declared Messi as the best player of the tournament. No less a person than the great Diego Maradona claimed Messi did not earn the title.
At the beginning of the World Cup showpiece, it is arguable that the issue was whether Messi could carry Argentina on his shoulders. Argentina was not, based on the FIFA world rankings, in the top four. It means that Argentina outperformed the expectations of the governing body by reaching the final.
At the beginning of the World Cup, the two top world players would be Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. If it were a draft pick, those two would be jostling for first pick. Ronaldo is a master dead-ball kicker. He is good with his header and his feet and can change a game. Unfortunately, Portugal did not get out of the first round and Ronaldo did not set the World Cup alight.
The player of the first round would be Messi. He scored a wonder goal against Iran. He skipped around three or four players and curled the ball into the left corner. Messi also scored a double against Nigeria. Nigerian goalkeeper, Enyeama, saved brilliantly one of Messi's vaunted left-footed curlers. However, shortly thereafter, Messi sent in an unstoppable free kick from about 25 yards, with the excellent goalie staring in amazement.
There are other outstanding performances in the first-round stage. Arjen Robben of The Netherlands must be admired for his goals and work rate; Robin van Persie, captain of The Netherlands, had a wonder goal with his head; Cahill of Australia scored a beauty; James Rodriquez scored well and played well; there was good goalkeeping etc, but Messi was the man.
After the first game between England and Italy, I would have said that Jamaica-born Raheem Sterling of England was the best player. Every time he got the ball, you expected something special to happen. His defence-splitting pass to Wayne Rooney that led to a goal was a masterpiece. However, one good game does not make one the best player.
Messi did not have a good game in the semi-final against The Netherlands, but he scored his penalty convincingly, unlike fellow Argentinian Sergio Agüero. Messi's game improved in the finals, but was not his best, and his last free kick summed it up. There were times when four Germans were around him and his fellow players were nowhere in sight. Messi sprinted past a German defender, but not enough persons were in the box to make use of the cross. Gonzalo Higuaín got a gift of a chance and did not use it. He, at least, should have made the goalie save his shot. German Mario Götze's strike deserved to be a winning goal.
Sure Messi was not at his best, but he sure was the best among those who played seven games. He was creating chances, dribbling around players, and giving hope once he was on the field. Sometimes, he looked lethargic; sometimes Argentina used the long ball too much, Augero should not have been selected because he was not fit and Carlos Tevez should have been the one.
I am sure that if you had the chance to make a first pick of a footballer at the World Cup, you would pick Messi. Messi, the best player, almost led Argentina to a 2-1 over German, the better team.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.