Jitin Dhawan

My Heart Beats For Argentina

Created on Jan. 15, 2014 8:58 PM EST

I grew up watching soccer with people whose favorite countries were Brazil, Germany, Italy and England, but my favorite was Argentina. The Argentina National Football team is one of the most successful national teams in the South America.

Argentina seized World Cup titles in 1978 and 1986. I like the team due to their former star player Diego Maradona. During the 1986 World Cup final, Maradona scored the first goal in that game, when he his hand reached-up to deflect the ball past England's goalkeeper Peter Shilton. This goal became famous as the “Hand of God” goal.

In his last World Cup appearance in 1994, Maradona took Argentina into the final stages, but due to doping charges, Maradona only played two games and was not allowed to play further. It was a big setback for Argentina as losing their star player and skipper was a big blow to them.

The current heartthrob is Lionel Messi who, incidentally, is the heir apparent to the throne left vacant by Maradona. The waters are divided between those who consider him to be far from being the best No. 10, and those who believe that Messi will be even better than Maradona.

He is compared to Maradona but has not been able to deliver like Maradona at the moment which counts the most. I think this time he would be able to do so. Messi will set the field on fire in next years World Cup and help Argentina lift the cup as they are hot favorites this time. Messi has yet to shine in a World Cup and that would be a major plus point for Argentina.

Messi was born in Rosario, and started with Newell's Old Boys, until he developed a hormonal problem and the club was not able to pay for his medical bills and he moved to Spain where Barcelona signed him could also pay for his medical bills. In a short time, he was able to reach the top in the youth side.

His first La Liga title came in the 2004-05 season. Since then, he has claimed the World Player of the Year award four times in four years that is 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, leaving a little doubt as to the fact that Messi is the best player of all-time.

This was proved in March 2012 when, at the age of 24, he became the all-time top scorer at Barcelona - beating the 232 goals scored by Cesar Rodriguez - and then breaking Gerd Muller's record of 91 goals in one calender year.

His ball skills are great, his runs from midfield are usually lethal and he is almost impossible to tackle as he single handily moves with the ball. His balance when running at speed is phenomenal. He pounces on the ball and moves towards the goal like a tiger. 

But, there is one problem and that is he searches for a way to finish moves by himself without looking for team-mates who are in a better position to shoot at the goal. Everything in life needs a team effort and it is the team effort which helps in lifting the cup. Individual performances are an added advantage. Argentina was eliminated from the 2006 World Cup in Germany in the quarter-finals and Messi saw his team bow out while sitting on bench as he was not able to perform adequately. 

"Messi is my Maradona," said Maradona himself, as the former head coach of the Argentine national team.

Messi says Germany, Brazil, Spain, France and Argentina are his favorite teams to lift the the World Cup trophy. Messi who received his third golden shoe definitely wants to win the ultimate prize for Argentina. I hope that he gets fully fit for the cup in time.

Another name going the rounds is Musacchio. “Sabella, Musacchio is Argentinian”, said a banner  displayed by Villarreal fans which was directed at Argentina’s national team coach Alejandro Sabella. He has not trusted the centre-back Mateo Musacchio in the national team despite series of impressive performances especially against Barcelona.

The 23-year-old has been one of the most important players of the newly promoted Villarreal side and has been the leader of their impressive defence. The defender looks mature on the pitch and has immense ability to read the game. Now have a look at the settings for Argentina that is you can have Musacchio in the defence and Messi in the midfield and definitely Tevez would be missed sorely.

Then there is Javier Mascherano who plays as a defensive midfielder with Argentina, adding another centre-back to the team, especially considering Argentina’s defensive issues against top-class opponents in the last World Cups.

Musacchio  can play for Italy also but dreams to play for Argentina. Musacchio has played twice with the Argentina national team and both times in international friendlies. The world cup draw is looking favorable for Argentina as Alejandro Mancuso,a good friend of Diego Maradona  took it for granted that they would win their group. The coach Sabella says that matches against Iran and Bosnia would be easy and the Nigerians are strong physically but they have played and beaten them many times.