A Brazilian fan entered Argentina's training session in Belo Horizonte by jumping over the fence. He took off his cap and pretended to polish Lionel Messi's shoes.
Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi
Keeping in mind the Selecao vs Albiceleste rivalry, it was unprecedented for a Brazilian to show his respect this way for the Argentina star. Especially since a certain Diego Maradona, present in Arena do Sao Paulo to watch the Brazil vs Croatia game, was booed by the Brazilians and had to leave in a huff.
The two in question — Maradona and Messi — the M-factors for Argentina, however, are pretty close to each other. Maradona had no hesitation in declaring who his 'No 10' was and handed over his jersey to his successor during his regime as coach of the Albiceleste. And Messi has always stated that there will be only one Diego in the history of the game.
Both of them had their first attempts of lifting the World Cup shattered. Maradona made his debut in 1982, lost to Belgium in his first match, scored a brace in the second against Hungary and went out of the cup after being sent off in the match against Brazil.
Though Messi had a goal-scoring debut against Serbia in 2006, coach Jose Peckerman, was not interested in playing him when Argentina lost to Germany on penalties. In 2010, a 22-year-old Messi played well, but the end came through a defeat to Germany in the quarter-finals.
The 1986 World Cup made Maradona what he is today. He was 26, the captain of a squad that was fully behind him, something that 1978 captain Daniel Pasarella didn't enjoy. In 2014, Carlos Tevez, the man who had assisted Messi's first and only World Cup goal, was not considered by coach Alejandro Sabella.
The only difference among these two teams is, Maradona had a tighter defence with Brown, Ruggeri while Messi cannot boast of such talents in his Argentine team. Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain can easily be termed as the Buruchaga and Valdano of 1986.
And like Carlos Bilardo, current Argentine coach Sabella has unconditional faith on his captain. "He is the best player in the world.
When you have a player like him, it is quite natural for the squad to play in such a way that suits him the best. If he can play at the best of his abilities, we all know, we will be in an advantageous position', said Sabella before the Bosnia game.
Maradona will be in Maracana to watch how Messi starts a fresh campaign to win the cup for his country. Will the M-factor (Maradona, Maracana and Messi) augur well for the Albiceleste in 2014? Watch this space.