Jul 12, 2014

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams

This has to be Lionel Messi's moment of reckoning - the chance to permanently etch his name among the pantheon of the greatest in football. Frankly he don't have to win the World Cup to be considered as one of the greatest of all time; but then some people just wouldn't shut up. So a victory tomorrow night in the final of the greatest competition in the footballing world will silence the critics forever. Or at least for sometime! You cannot judge the greatest players of teams on what they won. In that case the greatest Dutch team ever featuring Cryuff wouldn't make the list. That would be a tragedy. The bigger tragedy would be thinking the likes of Italian team of 2006 or the Brazil of 1994 making the list because they won the damn thing! The same with players. The greatest should be judged on whether they have revolutionized the game or not. In that simple criteria, Messi made the list a long time ago.

Regardless of whether he win the thing or not, he will be considered always one of the very best who have played the game. But tomorrow night will matter to him more that anyone. From the time people noticed him he has been hailed as the successor of Maradona. That legacy requires him to win the final tomorrow, especially for his dream to emulate his idol. Watching Argentina play everyone knows they expect Lionel Messi to create the magic and produce the decisive moment of the match. And till the semi-final he has done exactly the same. Even in the smei-final he was decisive. If Netherlands was forced to go in the back foot in contrast to their previous game, it was just due to the fear of one man - Lionel Messi. The match was a more or less a cagey affair with both the defense coming on top. The general agreement among pundits and fans is that the World Cup is still waiting for Lionel Messi to sparkle the tournament. He has produced enough moments of brilliance to take Argentina this far but he may have to unleash himself on Argentina.

Germany's 7-0 demolition of Brazil has made them the firm favourites against Argentina in the final. There is no denial of that. German players and coach have tried their best to underplay the expectation but with no effect. It will be foolish to consider that the Germans are not favourites in this encounter. They are extremely balanced and the strength is all across the field. But that should not result in the same effect as in teh Brazilian encounter. Argentina has shored up their defences once the knock-out stages has started. They have not conceded in the knock-out stage so far. The defense looked solid defending counter attacks and set-pieces.

The Germany and Argentina final will not be anything like what we saw in the Brazil-Germany match. It will never see such open chances. Argentina will go in to the game in the normal style - solid in defense and looking to Messi for the magic. The game could only be an open affair if Germany decides to be more offensive. But looking at how efficient Germans' always have been, they may go for a bit more defensive style. Bastian Schweignsteigner will most probably will be tasked with man marking Messi.

With the building up of expectation after the 7-1 victory over Brazil introduces tough choices for Germany. Should they go all out attack against Argentina? If they did so, they will be exposing themselves to the magic and danger of Lionel Messi. Argentina meanwhile will not have much of any startegic decision to make. They most probably would line-up in the exact way like in the match against Dutch.

Argentina would most probably will sit back and hit the Germans on the counter. The defensive line with Mascherano leading them would be extremely difficult for German to break down. In the offence section, they would once again look to Messi to create the magic. Not only them the whole world will be looking to Messi for a magical performance. To overcome this German side Argentina needs Messi to be in full flow and create the magic.

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