Lionel Messi working his way through the United States defense.
Less than a year away, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching. Alejandro Sabella has taken over the Argentine squad and has helped in securing their ticket to Brazil next summer, guaranteeing Lionel Messi another shot at the World Cup.
Whereas 2010's Argentina—headed by legendary footballer Diego Maradona—struggled in procuring a solid defense and appeared to be overly reliant on the talents of Messi, Sabella has created a team that acts more collectively rather than individually.
Of course, arguments could be made that Argentina's hopes still ride heavily on Messi's presence, but it's not surprising as to why. Any team with a world-class player of Messi's stature would be tempted to heavily, if not fully, base their system around their No. 1.
His contribution to his national team side has been underwhelming in the past, especially when compared to his successes at Barcelona, but his skills have never been questioned in the big scheme of things.
After all, being the only player to win the Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Player, Pichichi and Golden Boot in the same season earns one that respect, not to mention the fact that that same someone scored 91 goals in a calendar year.
Everything about this little magician is as perfect as humanly possible when on the pitch.
With every imaginable accomplishment under his belt, one still evades his clutches—the World Cup.
2012 and 2013 have consistently shown positive results from the young talent, so if this trend continues into next year, the outlook is optimistic for the Argentine's chances of bringing home world victory.
Listen closely, and you can still hear the ecstatic cheers ringing after Argentina's 4-3 victory over Brazil in last summer's friendly. Three of those four goals came from none other than Messi himself, stealing the game with an unforgettable hat-trick.
In June, Messi beat out Maradona's record and became Argentina's second highest scorer ever after his hat-trick against Guatemala. He is now only second to Gabriel Batistuta's 56 goals.
Having sealed his spot in the 2014 World Cup, Messi currently leads his team with 11 goals and is second behind Angel Di Maria with 5 assists in the World Cup Qualifiers.
His performance rate with Argentina has been on the rise, and he's been his usual top-notch self back at Barca. However, it's no secret that he has been having difficulties with his hamstring, which forced him to be subbed out after the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup in August.
This reoccurring issue could possibly impede his chances for World Cup glory, but there is still a good amount of time to work out any of the other kinks he may experience before making the trip to Brazil.
Now, the question still remains: Will this next World Cup end with Argentina as the reigning champions and Messi their triumphant king?
Only then will "the greatest footballer of all time" argument finally be put to rest.
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