Is this Messi's time?

JOHANNESBURG - Tomorrow’s World Cup final between Argentina and Germany is being described in most football circles as a dream final.

I am not aware what those analysts would have said if hosts and Argentina’s arch-rivals Brazil had avoided the 7-1 humiliation and reached the final.

While tomorrow’s final has all prospects of providing a humdinger of a game, most of the interest will be on Argentinean captain Lionel Messi who will be out to emulate Diego Maradona.

Messi has always been compared to Maradona, then captain of Argentina national team that won the World Cup in 1986 and reached the final four years later in Italy 1990.

In fact, the debate which has raged on during this decade has been on who is an all time great among Pele, Maradona and Pele.

Though the three played in different eras, the debate has raged on and on with no distinct common agreement.

One factor though which has in the past worked against the diminutive Messi was that he has no World Cup title to show for his greatness; unlike his two rivals.

He now has a great opportunity to immortalise his pedigree by leading Argentina to victory over a well-organized looking Germany side.

Pele won three FIFA Wold Cups; 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player ever to do so and is, and is the all-time leading goal-scorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games. Maradona was his side’s catalyst in their 1986 victory in which he single-handedly demolished the opposition.

At 27, Messi is at the prime of his career and opportunities of winning the World title do not present themselves more often and the Barcelona all-time leading goal scorer would like to seize this opportunity and put the ghost to rest.

In the semi-final against Netherlands which was eventually decided on penalties, the little football master was literally shackled by the Dutch and only showed some glimpse of his wizardry on sporadic occasions.

But typical of magician he is, he took the responsibility of dispatching Argentina’s first penalty kick which set the tone for their 4-2 victory over their European opposition.

Many neutrals would be rooting for Messi to achieve the feat that has eluded him in the past; though it must be said with the way Germany are going on with their job, it will take more than sentiments to see them lose this one.

Joachim Loew’s side has been the most proficient side at this World Cup and their 7-1 demolition of Brazil was a culmination of their hard work.

They have a rock-solid backline which some said resembled the Berlin Wall and is well-supported by imposing goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who is being touted as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Their midfield can stifle any opposition and have some of the most creative brains in the football field while Thomas Mueller, Miroslav Klose and Toni Kroos can score goals for fun.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, this should be one final to remember. It is a final which should cap one of the greatest Fifa World Cups ever, not short of drama and excitement.

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