By, Kyle Gibson
Two more stars are out of the World Cup, one due to elimination, one due to the knee of a no talent hack. James Rodriguez’s Colombia lost a hard fought match to Brazil on Friday. In the game, Neymar, Brazil’s star, took a knee to the back late from a dirty challenge and broke a vertebrae, putting his World Cup at an end before his team’s day is done.
Rodriguez leads the tournament with 6 goals, while Neymar was tied for next best with 4.
With those names now gone, a very familiar face could make his play the center of the tournament again.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina is still alive and for the first time in 3 appearances, Messi has been shining at a World Cup. He has 4 goals and an assist so far, but has been overshadowed by Neymar on home soil and the surprise and brilliance of Rodriguez.
Messi already has 3 signature moments at this World Cup. His goal in stoppage time against Iran bent around 3 players and won the game. His free kick goal against Nigeria was too well placed for even top goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Finally, his assist to Angel DiMaria to sink Switzerland was evidence of Messi’s unselfish characteristics.
Messi isn’t the only big game scorer left, because Thomas Müller of Germany also has 4 goals and won the Golden Boot in 2010. However, Müller was lucky to score 3 goals against a Portugal side that was sent down to 10 men. Müller looked nonexistent against Algeria and failed to score against France in the Quarterfinals. With Brazil in the semifinals, I’m not sure if Müller will score In that game either.
Messi still has a Quarterfinals match against Belgium to play and if Argentina is not eliminated, he would face the Dutch or Costa Rica en route to the Finals.
Messi is the biggest player left at the World Cup. With Neymar injured, Messi is probably the only big name draw that casual soccer fans will tune in for. Messi has long been criticized for his performances for Argentina. If he grabs control of the tournament, no rational person will be able to complain about him again.
With a potential 3 games left to play, I could easily see this becoming Messi’s tournament. Three goals could win him the Golden Boot. His shimmering, sensational play could well seal the Golden Ball.
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