Messi’s giant dream

First published in Sport

LIONEL MESSI believes winning the World Cup with Argentina would be the greatest achievement of his glittering career.

Argentina will make it through to their first World Cup final in 24 years if they beat Holland at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo this evening.

Messi’s trophy cabinet is packed with awards. He has six Spanish league titles with Barcelona, three Champions Leagues and he has been awarded the Ballon d’Or on three occasions.

But one accolade is missing – the World Cup.

Four years ago, many of Messi’s Barcelona teammates returned to Catalonia with a World Cup winners’ medals and now he wants one of his own.

“As a player winning a World Cup is the best there is,” the Argentina captain said. “It’s something you dream about when you are a kid and it never disappears.

“I have asked my Barcelona team-mates Xavi, Iniesta and Pique what it is like to lift the trophy, and they couldn’t explain.

“We will do everything to make this dream a reality.

“To play a World Cup final with the great atmosphere of the Maracana is something what every player dreams of, but first we have to make sure we get there.”

Argentina will, of course, be banking on their talisman to deliver that bit of magic to beat Louis van Gaal’s Holland, who have been one of the toughest teams to beat at the World Cup.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella poetically summed up what Messi means to him after the narrow quarter-final win over Belgium.

“He was our water in the desert,” Sabella said, reflecting on a first half in which Messi shone while others struggled.

Even though Sabella has the likes of Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano and the fit-again Sergio Aguero to call on, his reliance on Messi is clear.

Messi, who has scored four of Argentina’s eight goals, could still end the tournament as top scorer, but he is not concerned about individual accolades.

“I’d prefer the World Cup than the golden boot.

Always,” he said. “I am only concentrating on the team.’’

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