Lionel Messi carried Argentina past the quarterfinals and into the 2014 World Cup semifinals for the first time in 24-years. It's been a long drought for the South American greats, who won the title in 1978 and 1986.
In an uneventful game, Gonzalo Higuain scored on a pass from Messi in the 8th minute, which proved to be enough for La Albiceleste. They hung on as Belgium tried desperately to tie the game and go into extra time, but Lionel Messi and company denied them each time.
Messi didn't score, but he still has an opportunity to tie Maradona's record eight World Cup goals. Argentina is undefeated in Brazil, and even though they have been criticized for their performances thus far, they remain one of the favorites to win the title.
With Brazilian striker Neymar out of the World Cup, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi as the hopes of a continent rest on one of two South American semi-finalists. When playing the World Cup in South America, no European team has taken the title.
With Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and the impressive James Rodriguez now out of the 2014 World Cup, all eyes turn to Lionel Messi and what other incredible feats he has in store while in Brazil. Argentina was one of the favorites for the title in 2014, yet, so far, they have not impressed, even if they remain undefeated.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella admits having Messi in his roster almost assures his team a victory:
"That a player like Messi almost never loses the ball is water in the desert. Today, when the terrain was dry he gave us that breath of fresh air every time he had the ball."Even if Lionel Messi doesn't score during a match, he is the one that creates most of Argentina's scoring chances, and in many instances, he has the assist. During Argentina vs. Belgium, the Barcelona star had the brilliant assist that resulted in Higuain scoring. After the game, the Napoli player had this to say about the goal:
"We were able to reach a semi-final which we haven't achieved for many years. We gave our all, it's a World Cup, it doesn't happen every day. Now we need to play well and try and reach the final. There are two matches left to achieve this beautiful dream."
With Lionel Messi at the helm, Argentina is one step closer to achieving a third World Cup title. In any case, they have already made history reaching their first semifinal since 1990. Can Argentina win it all?
[Images via FIFA. com and Twitter]