Will Messi Lead Argentina to World Cup?


– John Leahy

Lionel Messi has been in superb form for his club Barcelona this year. He has scored 31 goals in all competitions for Barca so far, just behind Wayne Rooney of Manchester United with 32. Barca is poised to possibly win both Champions League and La Liga again. Messi’s national team Argentina, on the other hand, qualified with difficulty for World Cup 2010. With Messi voted Footballer of the Year in 2009 and on track to be chosen again in 2010, is he capable of leading the talented but erratic Argentina national team to the ultimate glory?

Spain and Brazil have both impressed during the qualifiers and are the favorites coming into the tournament. The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and England all performed well in qualifying, but the competition level in South Africa will be sturdier than most of what they had to face in the preliminary rounds.

Diego Maradona has not convinced the world about his coaching acumen yet, having qualified by a disturbingly slim margin. He does have a talented team with a good mix of experience and youth and a tradition of being among the elite of the world. The question remains if Maradona can get Argentina on track through the short tournament to live up to their tremendous potential and battle it out with more consistent performers like Spain and Brazil.  With a gem like Messi on the squad, I would say Argentina has the potential to go all the way.