Argentina vs Germany: Can Lionel Messi step out of Maradona's shadow in the World Cup final?

Billy Ehrenberg
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What will it take for Messi to equal or eclipse Maradona's amazing 1986 performance? (Source: Getty)

As we gear up for Argentina against Germany, much of the focus is on the mercurial Lionel Messi.

Argentina has never really fallen in love with its most talented footballing son.

That Messi left at a young age to pursue his destiny with Barcelona may have something to do with it, but a sublime performance from the diminutive genius could leave the Argentine public raising him up alongside their other great number 10, Diego Maradona.

But what will it take for Messi to equal or eclipse Maradona's amazing 1986 performance, where he almost singlehandedly dragged Argentina to victory?

Messi vs Maradona

That's the qualitative, but how about the quantitative?

The two look fairly even. Maradona scored one more goal than Messi has managed thus far, but had played one more game.

The original number 10 had four more assists to his name, but that could reflect more on his teammates' ability to put away chances rather than his passing.

The two are more even on chances created, with Maradona making, on average, 4.5 scoring opportunities a game and Messi 4.2.

By way of comparison, Mesut Ozil has created 15 for Germany so far at a rate of three per game.

Messi has embarked upon 65 dribbles so far in this years tournament, an average of 10.8 a game. Only two players have ever completed more: Jairzinho (70) in 1970 and, you guessed it, Diego Maradona (90) in 1986.

If Messi were to maintain his heroics with the ball at his feet he would still be 14 dribbles behind Diego.

Even if we adjust the figures for minutes played, Maradona still has the advantage.

So for statistical parity Messi needs:

One goal, four assists, six chances created and 25 dribbles in 53 minutes.

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