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Scaloni, the genius who squeezed out greatness from Messi, a star indebted to Argentina

Lionel Messi lived through four painful failures, which on more than one occasion made him seriously think about resigning from the Argentina national team.

In 2018, however, then-interim manager Lionel Scaloni arrived to the team, building a squad with some of the country's most important players, including Messi.

Lionel Messi scores from the penalty spot. Netherlands 2-2 Argentina

Messi, 35, is participating in his fifth World Cup, and probably his last. His sense of urgency shows in four goals scored through five games.

On Friday, Messi scored a penalty and assisted Nahuel Molina's goal. He also calmly shot the first penalty in the shootout, beating the Dutch goalkeeper.

Messi equaled Gabriel Batistuta as the top scorer of the Argentine national team in World Cups with 10 goals.

Lionel Messi is the MVP of the World Cup, so far

His record-tying strike came on his 24th World Cup contest and 1,001st match as a professional.

Messi has created the most chances with the ball in play (13) and set pieces (16) for Argentina this tournament.

He is now just six goals behind Germany's Miroslav Klose, the all-time leading scorer at World Cups.

Messi is the player who has been involved in the most shots on goal (39) in the entire 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The Lionel Scaloni factor

Scaloni has created a solid process that has Argentina genuinely dreaming of a third World Cup title. The Argentine Football Association (AFA) assured his continuity beyond the 2026 World Cup.

Prior to the shocking loss to Saudi Arabia, Scaloni's men were on a historic 36-game unbeaten streak.

After Jorge Sampaoli's departure in 2018, the offer to take on the manager position for Argentina was rejected by the likes of Diego Simeone, Marcelo Gallardo and Mauricio Pochettino.

Messi has won two titles with Scaloni: the 2021 Copa America and the Finalissima. He had no achievements with Argentina prior to Scaloni's arrival.

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