After having already scored on his debut, from a penalty, in a bitter defeat against Saudi Arabia (1-2), the ‘captain’ of the ‘albiceleste’ returned today, against Mexico, in the 64th minute, adding an assist, for Benfica player Enzo Fernández to score the final 2-0, at 87 minutes.
Messi had equaled Javier Mascherano’s 20 matches in his debut and, when playing today, he now has the same 21 matches as Maradona, who made his debut in 1982, was champion in 1986, ‘runner-up’ in 1990 and excluded from the 1994 edition due to doping.
The current Paris Saint-Germain player became the best Argentine in the ranking of games played, along with Maradona, who died two years ago on Friday, and also the German Uwe Seeler and the Polish Wladyslaw Zmuda, all in fourth place.
With 21 games, Messi follows only behind the Germans Lothar Matthäus (25) and Miroslav Klose (24) and the Italian Paolo Maldini (23), and, playing five more – the maximum possible -, he could end the 2022 World Cup isolated in the leadership.
As for goals, the 35-year-old player joined Maradona in historic 24th place, and also, among others, Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, who reached eight on Thursday (3-2 to Ghana), also passing to be the only one with goals in five World Cups.
In this list, Messi, who is also equal with his compatriot Guillermo Stábile, is not, however, the best of the Argentines, since Gabriel Batistuta has 10, achieved in 1994, 1998 and 2002, remaining in the group of eighth.
In global terms, the six-time ‘Golden Ball’ now has 93 goals and 49 assists for Argentina, in 167 matches, and in the last six matches, he scored in all of them, a total of 12 goals, an average of two per match.