In this week’s Golden Boot Contenders feature Soccer Laduma looks at Lionel Messi, arguably one of the biggest favourites to win the award.
The Argentine is experiencing an unusual season at Camp Nou. Having picked up three injuries over the past 1.5 years, Messi looked like he had found back to his strength scoring more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014.
However, Messi’s season was turned upside done when he experienced the first three consecutive defeats at Barcelona in his career. The Catalan giants dropped out of the Champions League, lost pace in the La Liga race and were defeated in the Cope del Rey final – Messi failed to score in each of them.
But how can the media criticise a player with his records, the first-ever and only player to win four consecutive Ballon d’Or’s. He has scored over 350 goals for Barcelona since making his debut in October 2004.
Amongst many personal and club accolades, he won six La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey’s and three Champions League trophy’s at Camp Nou.
Messi helped Argentina to win the 2005 Under-20 World Cup, finishing as both the best player and the top scorer (with six goals). In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play and score in the World Cup.
But what many wouldn’t expect, his 6-0 in a group stage victory over Serbia and Montenegro would stay Messi’s only goal at football’s biggest stage until today. Then a smaller figure in the Argentina squad, he didn’t feature much and his country lost the quarter-final to Germany 4-2 on a penalty shootout.
At the 2010 World Cup, his star was supposed to rise for Argentina. Coached by none less than the country’s greatest ever footballer, Diego Maradona, Messi wore the famous number 10 shirt for the first time in a major tournament.
But despite assisting four goals for his teammates, he failed to score in South Africa. Following victories over Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece and Mexico in the round-of-16, Messi couldn’t prevent Argentina’s painful 4-0 defeat to Germany in the quarter-final.
He was named the country’s permanent captain in August 2011 and his most prolific performance for Argentina probably came in 2012 when he scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 friendly match victory over Argentina’s arch rivals Brazil.
Messi ended the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign as second-top scorer in the South American section with ten goals, only beaten by Luis Suarez who scored 11. With 37 goals in 84 caps for Argentina, he is the country’s second all-time goal-scorer, having surpassed Diego Maradona (34) and Hernan Crespo (35) last year.
However, many believe the Argentine national team doesn’t support his style of play as much as Barcelona and he cannot alone lead his country to glory. Argentina fans, however, will be hopeful that Messi will finally score his second goal at the World Cup in Brazil.
Do you believe Lionel Messi can be one of the Golden Boot Contenders in Brazil? Have your say in the comment section below.