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“The Argentina shirt transforms Messi, makes him essential”

Those of us who were not born reciting Borges’ stories or humming Fito’s songs and on December 18 we supported Argentina to be champions, we knew what we were exposing ourselves to with that desire. We wanted the albiceleste to win the World Cup because it would shield the indisputable plate of Lionel Messi, a genius on a par with Pelé or Maradona, who despite his inexhaustible wisdom, confirmed in hundreds of playing fields for almost 20 years , received vilifications of all caliber from opportunistic bad milk or the most eccentric myopia.

From the moment that Messi reached the Olympus of the chosen ones, there has not been a day in which his compatriots do not remind us of what happened on the pitch of the Qatari Luisail. “A week ago we were shouting Montiel’s goal…”, “15 days ago our hearts stopped…”, “three weeks ago Dibu almost killed me”…, “37 hours, 27 minutes and 56 seconds ago we were shouting that we were champions of the world…”. So it has been and, I fear, so it will be until we leave this world and the Earth is again a ball of fire.

I sense that here we would have done the same. If we turn the ‘jotitas’ into soap opera characters!

Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccitini will turn 36 on Saint John’s Day. At that age, Pelé formalized his retirement from the courts – actually, he had already done so two years earlier, when he decided to play in the bizarre American league – and Diego did so a few days after turning 37, involved in a new scandal of doping, offering very little on the field of what it once was.

Messi is in a different situation. He has known how to adapt to the years and to what his physical form allows him. He is no longer the same, although as Harrison Ford would say in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage”. The man from Rosario has long ceased to be the explosive striker capable of leaving four or more players scattered on the field and defining at will against a terrified goalkeeper. Today he is a more cerebral player, who patrols the field looking to detect the opponent’s vulnerabilities, creates spaces with passes at the precise speed and makes free kicks have the same lethality as a penalty. Although the inexperienced Panamanians who faced him – the starting team stayed at home preparing to play against Costa Rica – knew how to get around him well, he left his seal of quality unblemished, seeking to meet Julián Álvarez in order to rebuild the society that extracted oil on the ground qatari And he left his mark on both goals: the first, with a free kick after which Almada took the rebound; and in the second nailing it at an impossible angle, also from set pieces.

With the albiceleste on his chest, Messi is not that inexpressive player who trots the French courts with dejection, accompanied by that group of heartless millionaires who say they belong to a club called PSG. The Argentine shirt transforms it. And, as confirmed on Thursday, he makes it essential. Argentina is world champion because Scaloni understood that it was necessary to form a team in which Messi was his most valuable piece. But how would I do without Lío? What would become of the life of Julián, Fernández or the courageous De Paul? Perhaps they would continue to be a great team, although without the same brilliance. And that, in the elite, can be decisive.

Luckily for Argentina –and for football– Messi still doesn’t want to retire.

Source: Elcomercio

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