Javier Mascherano: Midfielder Argentina (14)
The spotlight has always been on this player from the time he went to West Ham United in 2006. More often than not he has performed well in his roles given to him on the football pitch. Be it in the midfield for Liverpool or in the central defence for mighty Barcelona. He has been immense for his country in this world cup and has rallied his team well. He has played as a true leader in the team and looks to be in control. His performance against Holland in the semi-final can be summed up by the top class block he did to deny Robben from scoring at the very end of 90 minutes. It was timely, read the situation, tracked the man and fully committed himself to the cause. By far, the best performance in that semi-final. He has performed with high level of consistency at this world cup. An unsung hero, in a team having the biggest superstar in world football. He will be the key again, for the stability he provides to the South American team’s defence & midfield.
In the 6 games he has played till now, Javier has competition high 22 tackles to his name.
Martin Demichelis: Defender Argentina (15)
His pony tail has gone but not his game. Martin defender has shown everyone that his manager’s faith in him has been for the right reasons. He has always been seen as a defender who has an error or two in him, per game. Not in the last two games though. He was brought in for the quarter finals against Switzerland and he was immense in that game. Again, he looked quite assured and controlled in the semi-final against Holland. Composure is the word that comes to mind after looking at his last two performances. He has not been hasty in challenges or lunged into players. His reading of the game has been excellent and that has always been his strong point. It surely helps when he has Mascherano sitting in front of him in the midfield. To be part of a back line that has kept the likes of Van Persie & Robben quite in the semi-final is commendable performance.
In two games he has committed only 2 fouls and has done 11 interceptions.
Lionel Messi: Captain Argentina (10)
“He ought to be doing better than this. He is 4 time Ballon d’Or winner. He is the same Messi who plays for Barcelona. He can do it all. He has not been at his very best”. The comments go on and on. Fact is, Messi is in the final with Argentina. If you would have asked him before the World Cup had started, would you take being in the World Cup Final along with scoring only 4 goals and just 1 assist till then? He would have bitten your hand off. The expectations are so high with him that it’s easy to forget that he has been man of the match in 4 games of this World Cup already. This is the stage he has to perform to be seen along with Maradona and Pele. In the game against Holland he looked tired and was coming deeper and deeper to get the ball. He looked out of sorts. Even he is human. There will always be doubters and Ronaldo lovers who will never accept Messi as the greatest. A World Cup winner’s medal might just finish that debate for ever. He needs to focus just like erm…only he can do. He needs to take the game by scruff of the neck just like a Messi can do and then Argentina will be okay. He has reached the bridge and it’s time to cross it by delivering a sensational performance that can go into the folklore. Maradona has done it for Argentina before and now its Messi time. Time to end Argentina’s 28 year wait for winning the FIFA World Cup.
Messi has delivered tournament high 20 key passes till now and also hit 3 out of his 4 goals from outside the box.