Magical Messi needs settled side to mesmerize World Cup
Lionel Messi’s hat-trick for Barcelona last weekend has once again sparked the debate in Argentina over his indifferent form for his country.
“Messi is unhappy in the national team,” former World Cup-winning defender Oscar Ruggeri told the local America TV broadcaster.
While some critics claim Messi, having lived abroad since his early teens, has little feeling for the Argentine colours and is more of a Catalan, specialists tend to put the blame at Diego Maradona’s door.
They say that Pep Guardiola has a structured Barcelona team where Messi can shine and score goals, whereas he is expected to be the saviour for an Argentina side that still lacks an identity.
The recent friendly against Germany showed an Argentina with some shape and Gonzalo Higuain, also a hat-trick scorer last weekend for Real Madrid, shone with a fine goal under less pressure than Messi to deliver.
Maradona believes that once he has his squad together for a month or so in South Africa, he can prepare a team capable of winning the World Cup that, given recent performances, will not look unlike the pragmatic Carlos Bilardo side he captained to victory in Mexico in 1986.
Angel Cappa, a respected Argentine coach who divides his time when not working between Spain and Argentina, said there was no psychological issue.
“Messi’s main problem in the national team is a footballing one…With Barcelona he contributes with his talent and great ability to a team that backs him and helps him,” Cappa told the sports daily Ole.
“Instead, in the national team, since Lionel’s been in it, I think the lineup was never repeated, there still isn’t a team, so he’s lost. And that’s when the pressure of being Messi and the impossibility of being himself comes into play.”
Juan Sebastian Veron, a senior player in Maradona’s team, echoed Cappa’s thoughts when he talked of Argentina making the most of Messi’s and Higuain’s club form.
“It depends on the structure of the national team…Today they are in already built teams (whereas) our thing is more sporadic. I hope they can transfer all that they are doing to the national team.
“All teams progress in relation to the work done on them and that’s normal in all aspects of life…not only in football.”
PHOTO: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi holds the ball during a training session at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona March 16, 2010 ahead of their Champions League soccer match against VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino