As if we needed reminding, Lionel Messi proved his greatness in midweek and delivered yet another mouthwatering hat-trick for Argentina.
Messi is always great fun to watch, but when playing for Argentina he’s got an extra edge about him. It’s like every touch of the ball means that little bit more. With a booming Argentine crowd roaring him on, Messi didn’t disappoint the locals.
With three goals and an assist, he became the player with the most international goal contributions in the 21st century, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo in the process.
He took the first goal in typical Messi fashion, picking the ball up on the edge of the box before leaving two defenders for dead and burying the finish with his right foot.
The pint-sized maestro somehow manages to read the game in slow motion, while the rest of us mere mortals can just stand by and watch. This was the second part of Argentina’s World Cup homecoming and Messi was determined to put on a show.
His left foot should be considered a lethal weapon as the second goal was all too easy. Having been slipped in by Nicolas Gonzalez, Messi didn’t disappoint with the finish.
The third goal was like stepping into a time machine. Argentina quickly broke away for a counter-attack as Messi turned back the years and sprinted through on goal before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Those lung-bursting sprints are fairly few and far between for the 35-year-old these days, but when he gets up to speed there’s no stopping him.
Messi will have tougher opponents than Curacao, of course, but we can’t help but be swept along in his genius. This performance was absolutely box office.
MESSI WHAT A CRAZY HALF, ENJOY THE GOALS!!!! 🐐🐐🐐 pic.twitter.com/f9nwKcoUeS
— mx ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@MessiMX30iiii) March 29, 2023
With three goals and an assist to his name in this game, Messi now has 28 goal contributions in his last 14 matches for Argentina. When he’s in the mood, he is in a league of his own.
Lionel Scaloni was quick to praise the Argentine fans after the match after he and the players had received a hero’s welcome back in Argentina.
“The Argentine fans have always been one of the best and now they are the best. Whenever we played with this shirt, we always felt identified. Wherever we went, they always support us,” Scaloni told reporters.
“We will continue to think objectively about what we might be lacking. We have a wide range of players. Thirty-three came, so we have the pattern to pick from. If others come along, they will come too.
“The welcoming was very nice and I thank everyone who came to see their heroes. People have come from all over.
“The week was very emotional. To see how the people were jumping and singing at River’s stadium, to see the players emotional on the pitch, I think it was one of the best moments.”
With 102 international goals to his name, Messi now only trails Ali Daei and Cristiano Ronaldo on the all-time international top scorers list.
Given the rate he is scoring at this moment in time, we think he stands every chance of catching up.
By Ben Stewart