Lionel Messi has appeared in eight World Cup games for Argentina. If he scored at the same rate for his country as he does for his club, he would have found the net seven times in those eight games.
Instead, his strike in the 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro in Gelsenkirchen in 2006 is his one and only, and the little man’s small band of critics never shy away from vocalising this blotch on an otherwise perfect career.
The 26-year-old is mature now, and is fully aware of the one bolt missing as Argentina head into next summer’s carnival of football as second favourites.
“Slowly but surely I will be getting there to hopefully peak at the right time of the year,” he told BBC Football Focus. “I hope this could be a great year not only for me but also for Barcelona and for Argentina.”
Messi believes Argentina can win the World Cup in the backyard of bitter rivals Brazil, and insists this tournament will be more special than any before it.
‘It will be extra special, well above all the other World Cups. It’s in Brazil, with everything that means for us, our supporters will be there in their thousands and with them behind us I’m sure we can achieve something very, very special.’
Argentina have not been past the quarter-finals of a World Cup since 1990, where in the final they lost 1-0 to West Germany in Italy, but their main man believes the team have matured in recent times.
They finished top of the CONMEBOL qualifying table with just two losses in 16 games in the most competitive qualifying pot across the globe.
“I think this World Cup arrives at a good time for Argentina. We have grown as a team on and off the pitch. We have a great bunch of lads that love to play for our country.
“I think we will get to Brazil in a great shape and with all the chances in the world. We know what a World Cup is about.
‘I still have a lot to learn and a huge deal to improve. I hope to keep performing at a high level all the way to the World Cup.
“The desire to keep winning things is my main motivation. I want to keep going and win them all.”