Since nobody wrote about this here at SoccerNation, I thought I’d take a few minutes and, once again, extol the greatness of Lionel Messi.
Messi dominated every aspect of the gold medal match last night. He was, of course, especially active in the attacking third of the pitch. He had several good runs and his vision menaced the rock-solid Nigerian back four all night. To their credit, the Nigerian defenders did what they could. They tried everything, from cutting off angles of attack to being physical. Unfortunately for them, Messi is not just quick on his feet, but solid on them, as well. Finally, he unleashed the beautiful pass that sprung Angel di Maria for the only goal of the game.
But that play was made by Messi’s effort throughout the match. Though he was dominant in the attacking third, he was unafraid to come back and help out his own midfielders and defenders. Granted, he didn’t go back all that often (he mostly hung around at midfield, serving as a safety valve for clearances) but he did what was necessary.
Although Riquelme was the captain, I think Messi was the most influential player for Argentina. He was consistantly great and that bodes well for Argentina in the World Cup Qualifiers as well as Barcelona in Spain and Europe. Three months ago, Cristiano Ronaldo was the unquestioned best player in the world. Now, Lionel Messi is challenging him. I’m hoping for a showdown – again – of epic proportions in the Champion’s League sometime this season.