By Tony Ubani
The amazing form of Argentine enfant terrible and World Footballer, Lionel Messi is sending jitters down the spine of many Nigerians who fear that the little man could wreck havoc on the Eagles when they play in their group World Cup opener on June 12.
Messi has been mesmerizing soccer fans with his superb form and superlative goalscoring, thereby heightening fears that he could be Nigeriaâ€™s nemesis in the World Cup. Image maker of Nigeria Football Association, NFA, Ademola Olajire is equally gripped by this raging Messimania.
â€œHe is incredible! He is on fire and indeed one to watch in our match with themâ€, Olajire a fearless writer before deciding to bury his talent and work with those characters in the NFA said. Messiâ€™s latest stunning performance against Real Zaragoza to cap his hat-trick in the 4-2 win of Barcelona has kept the world wondering what manner of phenomenon he is. Real Zaragozaâ€™s coach Jose Aurelio Gay could not conceal his love for the little man of Argentina.
And he compared him with legendary Diego Armando Maradona adding that the 22-year-ld does things faster than the old master. â€œ”We have failed against a fantastic player. We fought far as we could. The team has not given up at any time and have been in the game until Messi decided it. The game was exciting, vibrant, beautiful and we love the football we’ve seen from a huge player.
Today I returned to seeing Maradona in his heyday but with more revolutions, much fasterâ€, Gay said. Is Nigerian Manager, Lars Lagerback watching Messi and marshalling out plans to hold him when they meet on June 12? â€œLagerback knows much about Argentina and will provide the solution when the time comesâ€, Olajire offered laughing.
Victor Omorogie who watched the Argentine struck thrice against Zaragoza compared him to German Gerd Muller and Brazilâ€™s Romario. â€œI wonder who would mark him when we play Argentina? They should be cautious or they would pay the prize by fouls on him. His pace is frighteningâ€, Omorogie said.Â It is not only Nigerians who are worried about
the Argie. Arsene Wenger has also been warned to beware of Messi when Arsenal play Barcelona in the Champions League.
While Messi is showing no mercy on his opponents, others cannot but applaud him for his rare gifts. Barcelone coach Pep Guardiola revealed that he has run out of superlatives to describe Messi. “Put in the superlatives yourselves, I’m running out,” Guardiola told journalists after the match.
“It’s already been a while now that he has been outstanding. “He’s more than decisive in every way. That he’s capable of doing everything that he does at his age is something impressive. It doesn’t make any sense. He always wants to play, whether it’s the Champions League final or against a third_division side. For me it’s difficult to leave him out, seeing the form he’s in. He’s an amateur in this sense, he always wants to play.
“Obviously his game has a great impact on our team. The day he’s not there we will respond, knowing that with him we are better. There are others who will take on the responsibility that he is doing.” Messi has scored 25 goals in La Liga this season and is well on course to take the Pichichi trophy for the division’s top marksman, as well as the Europe-wide equivalent, the Golden Shoe, in which he currently trails Wayne Rooney by a solitary strike.
The Spanish giants’ president Joan Laporta believes the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year is firmly establishing himself as the best ever. “Messi has once again shown that he is a wonderful player and that he is, without doubt, the leader of Barcelona.
“He is the best player in the world and the best in the history of football. Along with (Johan) Cruyff and (Diego) Maradona he is the best player we have seen at BarÃ§a.” And that is one of the players Maradona would file out against Eagles on June 12. What a date! And what a match it would be!