The 7-time Ballon d'Or winner, who carried the majority of the responsibility burden of the Argentina side for a long time, once again has a star-studded supporting cast assembled around him as the Copa America winners head to Qatar 2022 World Cup with high expectations.
The Argentina legend,Gabriel Batistuta
, believes the Albiceleste has a good chance of winning theQatar World Cup
as the burden of responsibility is being shared around by the whole squad instead of their iconic skipper,Lionel Messi
Batistuta has toldLa Nacion
“For a long time we gave it (total responsibility) to Messi; first we condemn ourselves for thinking that we had Jesus Christ and he is Messi, yes, a great player, but he is not Jesus Christ, and then we condemn him too. We did damage for a long time.
“Now that has changed because he feels freer with these guys. Of course, if I have the ball and I can give it to Messi, I give it to him. If I have two team-mates, I give it to Messi if I can. If there is a wall and he is behind it, I have to give it to the other one. Well, that's what these kids understand. And they all play well. If they can't give it to Messi, they're going to give it somewhere else.
“Messi is not stupid either. Do you know what it must be like to feel that others expect you to do everything? What if we all do it together? It sounds different. And it feels different.
“Go and ask Messi if he prefers to play in (Pep) Guardiola's Barcelona, where he shared everything with great players, or play alone and score all the goals. That is why in this national team he must be happy seeing the personality of all the players. I love them.”
Despite having a poor debut season withParis Saint-Germain
, the 35-year-old remained a standout performer for his country as he smashed Batistuta’s goal record for Argentina by recording 86 efforts through 162 appearances.
“He’s going to do more! He is a Martian!
“I didn't play until I was 40 because they didn't give me the ankles, but I understand his mentality. He has shown that he can go on, so why stop. We all play because we have a goal, and the goal here is to be the best in the world… forever. And that moves him. And he's going to play until he gets kicked out, I imagine.
“I don't see him leaving. Yes, there comes a time when the physique no longer allows you to continue, but if it's because of the mentality, he and Cristiano Ronaldo, they are different.
“The ability of Messi cannot be compared to anyone. Cristiano surpassed all the rest because of his mentality, because of working and working. Many play like Cristiano, but he has his ego, we all have an ego, you have your ego, I have mine, the one who doesn't have an ego does nothing.
“Diego [Maradona] had an ego, and Pele too. They are guys who put everything together: physical conditions, ability, character, ambition, ego and they stood out. There are many who train the same or even more, but they are not driven by the same motivation.
“Messi is going to play well at this World Cup, and not because it could be the last, because he sure wanted to win the previous ones, but now he has a good team around him.”
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