Lionel Messi: When Barcelona star led Argentina to Olympic glory with a masterclass

Lionel Messi at the Olympics

With the Olympics just around the corner and the football portion of the game starting on Saturday, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on Lionel Messi's campaign back in 2008. 

At the time, the Barcelona forward had just embarked on the kind of upward trajectory that would make him - in the eyes of many - the greatest player of all-time and his importance to Barcelona was such that they actively tried to stop him from competing, by legally barring him from the competition. 

Still, Pep Guardiola's involvement then released Messi and, from there, he took the Games by storm. 

A goal and assist in the opening group stage game against the Ivory Coast and, while he did not score against Australia in the following game, the YouTube video posted below shows just how much trouble he caused the opposition, before returning to the fold for the latter stages. 

Indeed, Messi then scored and assisted against the Netherlands to lead his country to a nervy extra-time win at the quarter-final stage and helped Argentina smash rivals Brazil 3-0 in the semi-final. 

Then came the showpiece occasion, some 13 years before he won another while draped in the iconic Argentine colours, a meeting in the final with Nigeria. 

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Often accused of going missing in the biggest games for his country, Messi (who was then only 21) set-up Angel Di Maria for the winner just before the hour mark to win a Gold Medal in Beijing. 

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