There’s a reason Lionel Messi is a football icon and his countrymen and women chant his name. We all know he’s talented and his talent reaches beyond many of the most accomplished footballers in the world right now.
But sometimes we forget the full extent of what he’s capable of.
In the span of just over 10 seconds against Croatia, Messi reminded the world just how special he is.
He opened the scoring against Croatia with a PK that was picture-perfect. It’s hard to overshadow a game-winning World Cup semifinal goal, yet his 69th-minute assist might have managed to do just that.
He’s one of the smallest and oldest players on the pitch, but as he took the ball with speed and purpose from just beyond the halfway line all the way to the end line, neither of those things mattered. All you thought was “wow, there goes Messi.”
Messi showed no mercy, and why would he?
Croatian defender Joško Gvardiol was outrun, turned around in circles, and outmuscled by Messi. It was a moment that said, you may be RB Leipzig good and Croatian National Team good, but no one is Messi good.
It was a moment that displayed everything that makes Messi who he is. Unparalleled field vision, impressive bursts of acceleration, feet like magnets that keep the ball conveniently close at hand, the use of every ounce of his body weight to the best of its ability, and the unselfishness to make his teammates around him look brilliant.
One might argue that a third Argentina goal was more of a cherry on top than a game-changer, but it did everything to boost Argentina’s confidence and lower Croatia’s heads. Argentina knows their star is in top form and that’s a glorious feeling heading into a World Cup final.
The World Cup showcases the best footballers in the world, and yet even among Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, Luka Modrić, Robert Lewandowski, etc., it always feels like an extra special privilege to watch Messi perform.