Argentina’s hopes of World Cup glory lie on the small shoulders of arguably the greatest player of all time.
But the argument as to whether Lionel Messi ranks above Pele, countryman Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane will only have substance when the magician lifts the biggest prize of them all on the international stage.
Disappointments in 2006 and 2010 - where he managed just a solitary goal - have blighted him from taking his place at the summit of the game, but the environment of South America - of home - should see him thrive.
Injuries over the past year have threatened to mar his career, but Messi has his mojo back. Any doubt was vanquished with his hat-trick in March’s Clasico, where he outscored Cristiano Ronaldo and propelled Barcelona back into the La Liga title race.
Relinquishing his Ballon D’or title to Ronaldo last year will have hurt. There is a feeling he has something to prove to the footballing world after casting a spell on it for so long and the feeling that same world deserve to see him take flight on Brazilian soil.
The similarities between himself and 1986 hero Maradona are startling. They are both potent and precise, armed with an attacking arsenal capable of bedazzling and bettering even the strongest of defences.
In South Africa four years ago he always looked alert but wasn’t able to reach the same heights he hits so frequently for Barcelona.
The bubble of invincibility in Catalonia is being burst, one pinprick at a time. As Xavi and Carlos Puyol teeter on the brink of retirement, his position and importance within the squad is paramount and Barcelona must fight through the shroud of mystery surrounding his future to keep him on board – whatever it takes.
Rumours surfaced last summer that Chelsea could have signed him, but such is his loyalty and attachment to the club there is no way he would ever hook up with Pep Guardiola's nemesis in Jose Mourinho.
Nor would he move to the Spanish capital itself, cancelling out a fantasy line-up of Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. He does not appear to possess the same desire to repeat Luis Figo’s infamous move from the Nou Camp to the Santiago Bernabeu.
His love from fans is unconditional, but in Argentina there is a growing feeling that he needs to produce this summer to deserve it.
The La Liga and Champions League titles won in the past will count for precious little if the World Cup evades him again.
Football is unforgiving and not even magical Messi is exempt from scorn. Only mesmerising in Brazil can save him and consolidate his status as the greatest of all time.
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