The “God of Soccer” Lionel Messi (35, Inter Miami) reminisces about his six-title days. He was convinced that the current level of the Argentine national team was not far behind Barcelona’s (Spain) European dominance.
Messi and Argentina continued to rise. Argentina, ranked No. 1 by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), earned a 2-0 victory over Peru in the fourth South American Zone qualifier for the 2026 North and Central American World Cup at the Estadio Nacional de Lima in Lima, Peru, on Monday (Aug. 18). The win keeps Argentina at the top of the standings after four matches with 12 points. They’ve scored seven goals and kept a clean sheet during their four-game winning streak. Messi was the star of the show. With his multi-goal performance, he scored the 106th goal of his A-match career.
After the game, Messi praised the strength of the Argentine team. He compared them to Barcelona, the best team in Europe. “I think Argentina are very close to Barcelona, who were the best in history,” Messi told Argentina’s TYC Sports, “Argentina are amazing. The more we play, the closer we are to the best ever. Play-wise, I think we’ve grown. After winning the World Cup, we are more confident, more relaxed, more solid. I hope we can continue to grow in the future.”
A former Barcelona youth product, Messi played for the club from 2004 to 2021. He described his time under Pep Guardiola as “the best ever”. Barcelona won a whopping 14 trophies in four years under Guardiola’s leadership from 2008 to 2012, including three Primera Liga titles and two European Champions League titles. Messi played alongside ‘legends’ Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. In the 2008-2009 season, Barcelona became the first European club to win six titles.
Barcelona also won the 2011 European Champions League final, beating Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United 3-1 on penalties. At the time, Ferguson called Barcelona “the best team in the world.”
Argentina has also recently won some big international tournaments and climbed to the top of the FIFA rankings. After winning the 2021 Copa America, they also topped the standings at last year’s World Cup in Qatar. It was Argentina’s 15th Copa America title in history and their first World Cup victory in 36 years since Mexico 1986.
Whether it’s the Barcelona team or the current Argentine team, the centerpiece is the same: Messi. In his four years at Barcelona under Guardiola, Messi played 219 games, scoring 211 goals and providing 94 assists. He also won four consecutive Ballon d’Ors. He’s also a longtime ace of the Argentine national team. In particular, Messi had a breakout performance at the World Cup in Qatar, helping Argentina win the tournament. His seven goals and three assists earned him the Golden Ball, which is awarded to the tournament’s best player.
Over the course of his career, Messi has won every trophy imaginable in the world of soccer, but not a World Cup. In her first four appearances at the tournament, including her first in Germany in 2006, she had her head down. However, Messi’s fifth World Cup appearance was an emotional one.
Once again, Messi led Argentina with a multi-goal performance. She rattled the net in the 32nd and 42nd minutes. Inside the penalty box, Messi opened the scoring with a powerful left-footed strike, and then finished off the game with a goal in a similar 안전놀이터 situation. Both goals were direct shots from the left side of the penalty box. However, the first goal found the top right corner of the net, while the second was a low, quick shot that found the bottom left corner.
Soccer stats outlet Footmob gave Messi a 9.2 rating, the highest for either team. Along with his multi-goal performance, Messi was an accurate attacker, converting five of his seven shots on target. His passing success rate was 81%.