Birthday boy Messi needs gift of a goalBy DPA, IANS
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Polokwane,SOUTH AFRICA - Lionel Messi celebrates his 23rd birthday Thursday still waiting for his first goal at the 2010 World Cup tournament and wondering what he has to do to score.
He struck the post against Greece and struck so much fear into the heart of his opponents that they put a man on him throughout the 90 minutes.
To no avail. Messi again conjured up some magic to set off on a mazy run and shot which led to veteran Martin Palermo - 13 years his senior - completing a 2-0 victory.
Messi had shone in the 1-0 win over Nigeria, was again influential in his side’s 4-1 defeat of South Korea when he was involved in two of hat-trick man Gonzalo Higuain’s goals and also took the free-kick which led to a Korean own goal.
His performance against Greece earned him the man-of-the-match award, but again he drew blank in front of the goal.
In fact, Messi’s last goal for Argentina was a penalty in a 1-2 defeat in Madrid against Spain last November.
His record of 13 goals in 47 games for his country is in marked contrast to his record for Barcelona where last season he tied Ronaldo’s club record of 34 goals in a single league season, set in 1996-97.
Messi scored at the 2006 World Cup during a 6-0 rout of Serbia-Montenegro when in Germany he became the youngest Argentinian to play at a World Cup.
But he was not a first-choice at that tournament and was also absent from the side that went out to Germany on penalties in the quarter-finals.
On Wednesday, he became Argentina’s youngest World Cup captain when he stood in for the rested Javier Mascherano, and would have loved a goal to cap his first game as skipper, although he played that down afterwards.
“I am not worried about not scoring,” he said.
“Of course, I want the ball to go in but I don’t care. I always try to find the best solution for my team-mates.
“I had a man clinging to me for 90 minutes. I tried to get the man out of the centre in order to create a one-on-one. It’s not important how they cover me, it’s important to make chances for others.”
Messi’s team-mates believe it is only a matter of time before he breaks his duck, and are hoping that comes when the side will need his inspiration in the last 16 against Mexico in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Keeper Sergio Romero said: “The little guy is a crack. The only thing he did not do again was score a goal but again he had all the chances.
“Even the post didn’t help him, but in the last 16 he will score all the goals he didn’t score up until now.
“He is a very calm guy. He knows how to play and he is out of this world. He won’t be anxious to score a goal, he knows that it will come.”
Messi will at least be able to enjoy his birthday, perhaps celebrating with a few hits from Oasis.
If British media reports are to be a believed, Messi has become a big fan of the group and would like them to reform if Argentina go on to win the World Cup.
According to the Daily Mail, Messi was reportedly persuaded to listen to the music of the band from Manchester by team-mate Carlos Tevez, now with Manchester City and formerly of Manchester United.
Messi was quoted as saying he found the music “absolutely amazing” and says he has been listening to it on his iPod dock in the hotel room, on the way to the matches and in the dressing room.
“I showed the rest of the boys in the Argentina squad their stuff and I promise you, everybody absolutely loves it. A few knew a couple of their songs but for most of them it was their first listen,” he was quoted as saying.
“We have agreed that if we win the World Cup we want to fly them over to Argentina for our celebration party. We just need them to name their price.”