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L. Messi

‘He’s Messi! Argentina must know to live with a genius’ – Valdano sees similarities with Maradona in 2022 World Cup bid

10:06 AM EST 12/9/22
Messi Argentina 2022-23
Jorge Valdano says Argentina have learned “how to live with a genius” as, like they did with Diego Maradona, they to play to Lionel Messi’s strengths.
  • All-time great chasing down glory
  • Remains a talismanic presence
  • Albiceleste look to him for inspiration

WHAT HAPPENED? The man who formed part of the Albiceleste’s triumphant squad in 1986 admits that it has taken a while for the class of 2022 to reach that point, with too much emphasis having been placed at times on trying to take responsibility away from Messi. Valdano believes that was always the wrong approach, with it imperative now, as it was in Maradona’s heyday, for the best player on the planet to be given the ball as much as possible.

WHAT THEY SAID: Valdano has told The Guardian of the standing a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner enjoys in a global game and within the current Argentina squad: “Messi has a remarkable self-control that has saved him. There’s no hiding place. He can touch down in an African country, an Asian country, he’s still Messi. The others have to know how to live with a genius. For a long time, this Argentina team didn’t; now they’ve learnt. The idea that everyone’s the same isn’t true. If you’re Messi, how are you going to be the same? If you’re Maradona? You have to respect their space, their habitat – and give them the ball even if they’re marked.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi has continued to deliver for Argentina at the 2022 World Cup, netting in three of their four games so far, and is – after ending his barren run on the international trophy front at Copa America in 2021 – determined to get his hands on an elusive World Cup crown.

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WHAT NEXT? Argentina will be back in action on Friday when facing the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of Qatar 2022, with the winners of that contest set to face either Brazil or Croatia in the last four.