FIFA World Cup 2018: Can Lionel Messi can become greatest footballer in land of Tolstoy

Jun 12, 2018, 07:34 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee

An interesting similarity between the two Leos - both 'Leo' and 'Lionel' - is that they have a Latin origin, meaning lion. Besides, Germans conquered both

FIFA World Cup  2018: Can Lionel Messi can become greatest footballer in land of Tolstoy
A soft drink can with Messi on it in Moscow

He will have his 'war' against the Argentine press along with Diego Maradona and the whole footballing world; his 'peace' will be a piece of history that could take place on July 15 at the Luzhniki Stadium, located at a distance of 200km from Yasnaya Polyana, where Leo Tolstoy, one of the world's greatest authors, was buried in 1910.

An interesting similarity between the two Leos - both 'Leo' and 'Lionel' - is that they have a Latin origin, meaning lion. Besides, Germans conquered both. Tolstoy's house was taken over by the Germans for 45 days in 1941. It was used as a hospital for their soldiers. Most dead soldiers were buried in the same graveyard, against the wishes of the Russians.

In the football world, Argentina, in the last three World Cups, have been ousted by Germany. In 2006 and 2010, they were eliminated in the quarter-finals, while in Brazil, they lost the final at Maracana. Messi did not play a role in the 2006 defeat when Jose Pekerman did not field him and the match went into the tie-breaker, while Mario Gotze's strike broke Argentine hearts four years ago.

For Messi and Argentine football, a resurrection is desperately needed considering the La Albiceleste have not won the world's premier football competition for 32 years now.

And who better than Messi to understand what the World Cup means to his country. Argentina's base camp is at Bronnitsy, some 50 kms from Moscow. A leading cola giant has already released new soft-drink bottles and cans featuring the Argentine captain's face here and it's selling across the Russian capital like hot cakes. Slowly but surely Moscow is warming up to the first ever World Cup to be held in Eastern Europe. And the arrival of the Neymars and Ronaldos of the global football world will only ensure temperature soar further.

However, the focal point of most discussions here remains Messi who, at 30, will have his last shot at the ultimate fame he so desperately deserves.

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