Lionel Messi Didn’t Deserve to Win the Golden Ball Award at the World Cup

The free-kick in the dying moments of extra time saw Lionel Messi in a position where he could etch himself into immortality. He was not going to win the match at that point, but if he had scored, Argentina could have flirted with victory at least. The problem was Messi blasted the ball over Manuel Neuer’s net, not even forcing him to make a proper save.

With that last fleeting hope gone, the final silver bullet went astray. It was all over. The breath was sucked out of fans as Germany were already clamoring for the final whistle to blow to begin celebrating. Messi knew it as did the fans in attendance at the Estadio Maracanã. It seemed like a story that would have a different ending judging by the opening minutes against Germany. However his impotence was evident. Yet in all of this, he knew that the questions would arise and things would become grim once more as his team failed to end a 21-year trophy drought.

Messi started out the match running at the German defense as Argentina saw chances in the Die Mannschaft’s left side. However I doubt that showing up the few times he did does not make him the top choice for the Golden Ball in this tournament.

The big issue with Messi was not his overall performance. Let’s be honest. If Messi did not make an impact in the matches that he did in this tournament then we would be singing a completely different tune. If Messi failed to score against Iran or against Bosnia, things would have been completely different for Alejandro Sabella’s men.

He carried them to a certain point, but as the tournament pressed forward, the squad began to find its footing. Was it Messi’s fault that he was not able to perform in these instances? I am not sure I would go that far. Every time you saw Messi get the ball, he would immediately be surrounded by two defenders at least and would not be permitted to position himself to cause Germany any havoc.

The problem was that we just saw bits and pieces of what Messi could do. There was talk that he was not 100 percent, although he was one of the players with the most minutes played. All of what Argentina couldn’t do shouldn’t be blamed on Messi as players like Gonzalo Higuaín, Rodrigo Palacio and Sergio Agüero were not even close to being able to contribute to the cause on a consistent basis. Palacio missed two vital chances against Netherlands as well as in the final, while Higuaín seemed out of sync in this entire tournament.

This was why we saw Messi struggling to find a player to associate with. He’s been a player that thrived on feeding off of what other players can do. Unfortunately, Messi never was able to find that player in this cycle. Yet, in that process something greater occurred – Argentina found themselves.

Sabella’s Argentina were not a squad that was tiki-taka, jogo-bonito or any other style you would think they could play. What you saw on the pitch at Maracanã was what Argentina provided from a collective standpoint — a team-effort.

It was the end of the road for him. He came up short of what many saw as his destiny. It was his chance to finally consolidate his name amongst the Olympus of soccer.

Yet I am confident that he was not the best player of the tournament. Selecting him would be putting down some of the truly great performers like Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos, Javier Mascherano and even James Rodríguez (to me, the deserved winner). Messi, just should not be in this conversation. Although, the Barcelona man was the team’s leading goalscorer and was able to show his brilliance, those moments were too few and far between.

He played too alone at times and he had no one to associate himself with.

So what was Messi’s verdict? Adequate, at least for me if you see what he did at times and where the team got to. Still, if you are a talking about a middle of the road role player, “adequate” is good enough in a World Cup. Messi is a different story. Adequate for Messi is still not good enough. He’s on a different standard. His standards and records put him on a sometimes – unforgivable performance curve. That curve will always be just a bit steeper because of his game being so superior until the injury bug began to affect his play.

Is he the best player in the world still? You’ll have to make some debate for it, but he’s in the discussion at this point. Was he the best player of this World Cup? Absolutely not. Still at this stage of his career, Messi did get to a final. So if you want to compare him to Cruyff, honestly, that is not a bad person to be compared to at this stage of his career.

21 thoughts on “Lionel Messi Didn’t Deserve to Win the Golden Ball Award at the World Cup”

  1. Zidane 06- 3 goals 1 assist and red card in the final
    Forlan 10- 5 goals 1 assist and finished fourth
    Messi 14- 4 goals 1 assist and runner up in the final

    He also received 4 MOTM’s, had the most chances created, interceptions by attacker, successful dribbles (all courtesy of

    There were several players (like there always are) that deserved a shout. Germany had so many great players, but they had a great team. Think it’s safe to say Argentina wouldn’t have gotten to the final without Messi. Can you say the same about Germany and one player?

      1. Neuer was great, no question about it. Like I said, could go to so many German players, all very impactful.

        Think the difference is since it’s an individual award, Messi still was very much an individual reason at many times for Argentina’s success.

        Even in the knockouts when he never scored, attracted many players towards him all the time, like when he assisted Di Maria against Switzerland. Set up that whole run of play.

        1. on what basisyou are sayig Neuer was great? Romario was far better and U.S. goalkeeper was best. On the other hand, Messi was the best whoever say what. Remember that football is a team game and for Argentina, despite having great strikers, their existence were equal to none while Messi never played as pure strikers while none provided any assist to him. whatever e did, did on his own skill and effort. accept the fact

    1. You make Argentina sound like a **** squad when they had THE BEST squad behind Germany. Messi had Di Maria, Macherano, Aguero, Higuain, Lavezzi, Pastore, Rojo, Sergio Romero and Zableta behind him, and your telling me that’s an average team around him? HELL NO. On top of that, hands down Argentina’s best player was in fact Mascherano, everyone agrees on that. Messi wasn’t the best player, and we all saw that, James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben, Phillip Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos all were more deserved than he was. If you wanna look at someone who carried their squad, by far that’s James Rodriguez.

  2. I have to agree with Maradona. It was a marketing tool by FIFA.

    Absolutely no disrespect meant to Messi, but he didn’t deserve the Golden Ball.

    I understand the argument for FIFA not giving it to James Rodriguez because his team didn’t go as far in the tournament.

    But I can’t explain not giving it to Thomas Müller or Toni Kroos. (Say what you want, but I would’ve given my vote to Philipp Lahm).

    If it was ‘a marketing plan’ like Maradona says, it backfired. Because the image of Messi dejected while walking up the stands, not acknowledging the fans’ hands who were reaching towards him and then accepting the trophy with his head hung down is etched into everyone’s minds.

    1. Maradona is a bitter old degenerate fool.

      I was looking back at his numbers from 85-86 and I think he played like a grand total of 30 club matches the entire year. Messi has been playing football at the highest levels of the game virtually nonstop since last August.

      Give the guy a break.

      1. …I think you’ll find, however, that Maradona was playing against the best players in the world every week in Serie A, while Messi plays in a league where every team but his own and Real Madrid are bankrupt. Maradona was an orchestrator, which will become evident if you actually take the time to watch some of his matches with Napoli, while Messi is only effective when given the ball in dangerous positions by his teammates.

  3. To say that he should not be in the conversation is absolute nonsense. He was KEY in getting Argentina to the World Cup Final. He dragged a lacklustre Argentina through the group stages. He scored a WORLD CLASS winner v Bosnia & Iran and score 2 crackers v Nigeria. His run and assist was key in setting up the winner v the Swiss. He got 3 MotM awards and they were deserved, he shouldve gotten 4 but Di Marias got one due to his goal. Up until the quarter finals no other player was MORE influential than Messi. Before the semi final one of his good friends is killed in a car crash and the Dutch put 2/3 men on him the whole game. They changed their tactics to stop him and as a result no attackers had a good game, not him, not robben etc but Messi still influenced the outcome with a decisive peno. Dont discount that. He didnt shine in the final but either did Muller or any attackers that started. Kroos nearly threw the WC away. The defenders off both sides had great games. Mascherano was gr8 in the Final and Semi final but he never won them a game. Messi completed the 3rd most dribbles in WC history, he score important match winning world class goals, he was key in getting his team to the final and he did this while lookin not fully fit and while losing a good friend the day before the semi final. He also did this with a Argentina team that lost Aguero & Di Maria to injuries and that had a Gonzo Higuain totally off form bar one game.. Messi had little or no help in attack.. OF COURSE HE WAS A CONTENDER FOR THIS AWARD FFS… How did James Rodriguez do after the quarter final ??? Oh thats right he went out & up till the Quarter final he was as good, not better, than Messi…. I wouldve given the award to James Rodriguez myself but I wouldve had Messi second. To suggest he shouldnt have been in the conversation is total nonsense. Get real. Without Messi Argentina wouldnt have gotten out of the group stages. Has this site turned into a anti Messi site??? The anti Messi crap thats come out since the final is just depressing. Cant people appreciate gr8 players…

  4. btw thanks for allowing us to compare him to Cruyff…. What about Di Stefano??? Can we compare Di Stefano to Cruyff too or do we have to compare Di Stefano to Best since both didnt make it to the World Cup??? Thats how it works right !!!! lol nonsense …. shame all those CL trophies, Ballon Dors (& that World Cup runner up medal) & his ability count for nothing when judging a player.

  5. I agree that he didn’t deserve it, but I have no qualms that he got it either. He did everything he possibly could to lift his team to victory and if others around him cannot show up than it’s not one man’s fault that a team lost. It’s extremely unfair to criticize his performance when his team mates are expecting him to perform miracle. In Barcelona, his team mates play with him, in Argentina, he is all but expected to just go past world class German players like they are not even there and score. Unrealistic expectations is all it is.

  6. Much ado about nothing, really.

    I really can’t understand why so many
    people want to create a big fuss and
    display so much animosity, disdain and
    apparent jealousy towards a small-time football
    trophy for a good footballer who tried his best,
    despite most difficult circumstances, to lead his
    men and try to win a football championship for his country.

    Just leave the poor man be.

    Did anyone ever stop to think that he and the rest of the
    Argentinian team had to endure 240 minutes of hard running
    in a sport that demands extreme endurance ?

    Virtually the same squad played in this final as the
    semifinal, no changes made. The manager was
    asking too much of his men. I would have fielded
    the entire reserves as the initial lineup.

    And did anyone even have a thought for the man who
    has to endure the extreme pressure and burden of an
    entire nation on his shoulders ?

    Did anyone ever give consideration to the fact
    that he just recovered from injuries, hardly the
    perfect situation to help him cope with such
    pressure and physical endurance ?

  7. The same thing happened in 1986.

    After fighting against Brazil for 120 minutes
    plus a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals,
    Henri Michel fielded exactly the same lineup
    against Germany in the semifinal.

    He had good quality players in his reserves
    as his disposal.

    I knew they were going to lose, and sure they did.

  8. Four quotes from Jose Mourinho. One might challenge the special one’s antics, but not his judgment.

    “Messi was trying to create something out of nothing for his team. His assist to Di Maria was for example brilliant.

    “Messi played in zones that are not his. He had to play so low that he had to cross 2-3 lines. Always had 2-3 players on him.

    “Messi sacrificed himself for the team. He wanted to win, he didn’t wanted to be topscorer or mvp, he wanted to make history.

    “All my respect to Messi because he played for his team and this can’t be said of all players at this World Cup.

  9. The article hardly reads as a piece that makes a case for anyone else getting the award. And the pinnacle of the article seems to indicate that Messi shouldn’t have won because his team didn’t have his Luis Suarez to his Diego Forlan.

    Neymar only made it through to the quarterfinals, but speak about a guy carrying the team on his shoulders.

  10. Agree that Messi had 2 world class goals. His late game winner outside the box had all 11 opponents between him and the goal line. If you watch his long run from midfield, sets himself up with a tap back, runs across edge of box and puts it in the corner, just breathtaking for people who’ve actually played team football. James and Cahill had nice volleys and picturesque Persie header, but those were in the moment, athletic skill, not mastercraft.

  11. Messi had no help.
    IF Messi played for Germany he and Muller would have scored 3 or 4 goals against Argentina.
    Why does #9 for Argentina get a free pass? He was horrible, off sides and out of position. The great Maradona assisted ,did not score to win the world cup. If Messi had some help he would have assisted on 2 to 4 goals. Germany was a better team, them could afford to place 3 bodies on Messi because the rest of the team was out of position on offense. Their Defense was very solid.

  12. Messi is great. The problem was this that He has no player who can feed her being a striker. 120 minutes he stood outside the box. I bet if di maria was there instead of messi and messi on place of hiugen. Argentina surely won by 2-0. hiugen
    Secondly why sabella changed lavezi 22. That is stupid change. He was the one who was making tired to Germany men.

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