New Delhi: When Lionel Messi stares at nothing with his moist eyes, he can stop the world around you. If he gets annoyed and argues with a referee, you will get angry too.
And when you see him running laps around the best in the world and then letting them chase shadows like he did with defender Josko Gvardiol on Tuesday night in Doha, the world seemed like a better place.
You jump for joy. Some would have awakened their loved ones from a deep sleep to share the excitement.
You can win any trophy in the world, but FIFA world cup is special. Pele touched him three times, Maradona also got the chance to caress the hands that held the ‘Golden Globe’.
And if Messi misses this opportunity now, it would be an unfinished chapter in football history.
In his fifth and final World Cup, Messi, like world cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, is eager to get his hands on the trophy.
Tendulkar won the Blue Riband trophy in his sixth and final global appearance in 2011 in Mumbai.
Can Sunday bring that Tendulkar moment for Messi and Argentina? Tendulkar lived his dream and there are millions who would pray that it happens for Messi too.
“I have seen God walk the earth. All I want now is for Messi to win the World Cup. I wouldn’t regret in my life if I don’t watch sports after that day. But Man, Messi, should win. Think about it, what a memorable moment it would be for the Albicelestes for the last time,” Deepto Roy, a lawyer from Mumbai, who is in Doha to watch the semi-finals and the final, told PTI.
“As an Indian and also someone who has watched the cricket world cup final in Mumbai, Messi gives you that Sachin Tendulkar-esque feeling. It seems the whole world wants to see Messi lift that World Cup. We hear about fairytales and I want to live this fairytale on Sunday night,” Deepto said.
For Indian fans, Argentina and Diego Maradona finally came into their lives in 1986 when Doordarshan started broadcasting FIFA World Cup matches from the second round.
Even in the pre-internet days when social media wasn’t even a concept, Maradona’s skills united the Bengals, Malayalis and the Goans, the three football-crazy states in India.
“Messi belongs to Barcelona as much as he does to Argentina. But there is a social context to the crazy Argentinian fandom, especially in Kolkata and Kochi. Bengalis and Malayalis are lovers of art and in Maradona they found an artist they had never seen in seen their lives.
“There is a generation that actually only watches football once every four years, but Maradona made them fall in love with the Argentina football team and with Messi.
“So Messi and Argentina became a sentimental connection for many who don’t even follow Messi these days at PSG. But you have to admit, as an Indian, the 2011 World Cup was everything like SRT and you get the same feeling for Messi,” said Dwaipayan Chatterjee, an avid club football watcher .
Strange as it may feel, Julian Alvarez is no less a hero in Argentina’s semi-final win and that 40-yard descent is one for the goalkeepers. But that second goal of his will not be discussed. He scored another goal, the third that will be talked about, but not because of him.
And Alvarez will have to live with the fact that for once the scorer of that goal will be talked about more than the scorer.
Gvardiol is only 20 and is expected to rule the football world for at least ten years as one of the best defenders, able to play as both a stopper and a side defender.
Wearing a black mask to protect his broken nose (he played one in the World Cup), Gvardiol sometimes loosely resembled ‘Captain America’ with Messi’s ‘spider-man’-like abilities.
Gvardiol did nothing wrong for most of that sprint because he was technically perfect. He stayed by Messi’s side, giving him no room to maneuver as the maestro began his stride wide down to the right (to Gvardiol’s left).
He reached the side of the box and that’s when the ‘Messi magic’ happened. One that is joie de vivre and orgasmic.
Messi turned his back on Gvardiol in a split second and, with a twist of the hips and a sudden feint of the body, slammed him into a half turn before holding a perfect cut for young Alvarez.
And for Melbourne-based software professional Dipanjan Ghosh, being in the stadium was the most “surreal feeling”.
“Messi’s performance was for me what Argentina and ‘my team’ would do in a tournament. I live in the land of good wine. Messi is that fine wine, which matures perfectly with time,” said Ghosh.
“I’ll still be an Argentina supporter after he’s gone, but when my eight-year-old grows up and I get even older, I’d say to him, ‘Buddy, you’ll be richer than me, smarter than me, but you can’ can’t be more lucky. You know why? I’ve seen Lionel Messi play live and.”
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