Diego Maradona had a massive negative impact on the dream of Lionel Messi.
Despite being among the favorites to secure the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Diego Maradona’s tactical inability demolished the dream of Lionel Messi.
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The Argentine captain is yet to win a trophy with his national team reaching the runner-up spot on multiple occasions, three times in Copa Ameria (2007, 2015, 2016) and the 2014 World Cup. All these attempts have brought Messi painfully close to his dream of winning the greatest honour in world football but had him missing out on very narrow margins.
The 2014 World Cup campaign in Brazil was the closest Leo had gotten, with thousands of Argentinians crossing the border to support their national heroes, but despite Messi and Co.’s heroic display, it was Germany’s Mario Gotze who delivered the final blow in extra time to end all hopes of achieving the ultimate glory.
If Rodrigo Palacio, Gonzalo Higuain, and Lionel Messi managed to materialize their many attempts at goals, then the history books would be telling a different story today, thus rightfully marking the 2014 campaign as Leo’s best shot at the title. But in reality, the Barcelona legend’s best opportunity was the tournament in South Africa 4 years prior to Brazil.
In many ways, the Argentina squad of 2010 was far superior to that of Alejandro Sabella’s 2014 squad but carried a crucial disadvantage in the form of head coach, Diego Maradona. Diego’s XI consisted of four Argentinian internationals that were a vital part of Jose Mourinho’s Inter Millan that achieved the treble. Carlos Tevez of Manchester United had lifted the 2008 Champions League trophy with Lionel Messi winning the European glory in 2009.
On top of these well-established footballers, Maradona also had his hands on some of the greatest talents Argentina has ever produced in the form of three 2007 Under-20 World Cup winners Ángel Di María, Sergio Agüero, and Sergio Romero.
The squad was filled with players that have had the luxury of growing up together to truly understand each other’s style of play while having one of the deadliest creative partnerships of the time in Juan Roman Riquelme and Lionel Messi, where one provided immense experience while the other his youthful dominance. The pair helped the squad win Olympic Gold just two years prior in 2008.
Argentinians might recall that along with having some of the best players of this generation, Maradona also had experienced veterans like Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich and Manchester City) and Gabriel Heinze (Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid) and among them, it resulted in an insanely stacked Albiceleste squad, who were considered serious contenders for winning it all.
How did this squad not win the World Cup? Perhaps your question can be answered by looking at the “Golden Boy” of Argentina and then Head Coach, Diego Maradona.