Lionel Messi is about to make his final try to capture the grandest prize of them all, sixteen years after he was an irksome spectator on the sidelines as one of the unused substitutions in Argentina’s defeat to Germany in the 2006 World Cup.
Messi entered the 2006 World Cup as a wunderkind, but Jose Pekerman’s fantastic Argentina team did not provide him with consistent playing time.
Argentina exited the tournament at the quarterfinal stage after losing to the hosts Germany on penalties despite playing some spectacular football in that competition.
Pekerman formed the 2006 Argentina World Cup team around Juan Roman Riquelme. After two unsuccessful coaching attempts forced to work odd jobs for a living.
Messi was already a regular at Barcelona by that point, and he was crucial to the Catalans’ Champions Trophy triumph.
But Pekerman kept using Messi as a crucial player in that competition while he was sitting on the bench.
Pekerman’s decision to keep Messi off the field in the second half as Argentina desperately tried to defeat Germany. Before the game went penalties were one of the biggest mysteries in international football.
The first of many heartbreaks that Messi will experience during his World Cup run.
The 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium will soon host the opening match of Argentina’s 2022 Qatar Globe Cup against Saudi Arabia. The entire football-loving world is holding its breath.
Can Messi lead Argentina to a World Cup victory at last?
Messi has undoubtedly received the support from coach Lionel Scaloni that he lacked in the past four World Cups.
Argentina has finally discovered a team and a system that can support Messi after searching for more than ten years.