Messi is under pressure to win the World Cup, feels Baichung

Aditi Tyagi

All eyes would be on Lionel Messi – the stalwart of modern day football, as Argentina take on Bosnia and Herzegovina in the FIFA World Cup 2014. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia spoke about the pressure on Messi to win the World Cup just like Diego Maradona in 1986.

Excerpts from the conversation:

There are a lot of expectations from Lionel Messi, but can he achieve what he couldn`t in 2006 and 2010?

I am sure he is ready for it. He has been compared with Maradona, who single-handedly won the 1986 World Cup for his side. Messi is a big name in football and I am sure all the coaches would have done their homework as to how to tackle him on the field. It isn’t going to be easy for him, but considering the talent he has, this should be a good World Cup for him. Argentina’s first match isn’t going to be easy against Bosnia Herzegovina, but as far as Messi is concerned, this World Cup should be his.

We are talking about Messi here and he had said earlier that wherever he goes, not just Argentine fans but also the Brazilians fans tell him that they expect the final to be played between Argentina and Brazil. All these expectations, do they create pressure in such a showpiece event?

More than the final, the pressure is just one – to win the World Cup. Especially since he is always compared with Maradona. No matter how big a player you are, your career isn’t complete without a World Cup. Thus Messi is under pressure to win the World Cup, just like Maradona did for Argentina. Both are similar kind of players, but unless Messi wins a World Cup, that pressure will always be there.

Argentina aren’t known for their defence as much as their formidable strikers. Apart from Messi, there would be huge responsibility on Aguero and Higuain as well?

I am not too sure whether both Higuain and Aguero will play together. It is possible that Higuain even doesn’t get to start. Messi prefers playing from the right-side. On the left midfield, Di Maria is a very talented player. His skills are somewhat similar to Messi, as even he likes to take on the defenders one on one basis. But apart from Messi, the most important role for Argentia will be of Mascarenhar in the defensive midfield. He can play as a holding stopper and his interceptions, tackles are highly skillful. On a whole, I believe Argentina are very strong and compact and even in friendly matches, we saw their much improved defence as well.

Bosnia and Herzegovina are making their World Cup debut. There are a lot of talks about Edin Dzeko. What kind of threat can he prove to be according to you?
Dzeko had a tremendous season for Manchester City. For City, he had a striker partner in Sergio Aguero. I think we will witness a lot of competition between these two. But Bosnia is a team which is known to play a lot of physical game. Dzeko is obviously their most successful player and I guess we will witness a good competition between him and Aguero.

What is your prediction. Today’s one should be an easy one for you?

Considering the upsets we have seen so far, I think I should stop predicting any more. My predictions are going wrong, but I still believe Argentina are favourites to win the match.