COMMENT: Is Lionel Messi good enough to lead Argentina to success at this year's World Cup?
That is a question that will probably gain more traction as the World Cup kick-off date of June 11 gets closer but after a stunning performance in the Champions League quarter-final against Arsenal, the question can be posed right now.
Messi is sublimely talented, brilliantly gifted, works hard and is extremely humble making him a player everybody loves but he also has a killer instinct and a hunger for success that will drive him towards World Cup glory.
At just 22 years of age, he has already won the Spanish league title on three occasions with Barcelona, the Spanish Cup once, the Spanish Supercup three times, the UEFA Champions League twice, the UEFA SuperCup once and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Personally, he has achieved football's highest individual awards, the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year, among a long list of other achievements and is being touted as one of the greats of all time.
Four years on from Germany 2006 where he scored as an 18-year old, Messi will now be relied upon as Diego Maradona's Argentina strive to win their third World Cup following triumphs in 1978 and 1986 and this is no better year for the man from Rosario to be competing on the world's biggest stage.
So far in the 2009/10 Spanish Primera Division season, Messi has scored 26 goals and provided 9 assists in just 27 matches. Double that with his impressive UEFA Champions League stats of 8 goals in 9 games and we have a serious player on our hands who is quite capable of winning football matches off his own boot and isn't afraid to do so.
The best thing is for La Albiceleste at the moment, however, is that Messi isn't the only Argentinean who is in top form.
Manchester City's Carlos Tevez is flying with 20 league goals and 7 assists from 29 matches and has helped the Eastlands club to fourth on the Premier League table whilst Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain has 24 goals from as many matches and Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid has scored 10 times and provided 4 assists in just 26 appearances in the same league as Messi.
Add to that the form of Inter Milan striker Diego Milito who has hit 18 goals in 28 matches and defender Walter Samuel who has helped the Nerazzurri climb to the top of the Serie A table whilst Martin Demichelis has helped Bayern Munich top the German Bundesliga and they are still alive in the Champions League. Nicolas Burdisso has helped guide AS Roma as they challenge for the Serie A title with Inter and Liverpool's Javier Mascherano is an experienced skipper at just 25.
Argentina's Germany 2006 form yielded wins over Ivory Coast (2-1), Serbia and Montenegro (6-0) and a 0-0 draw with Holland in the group stages and was backed up with a 2-1 win over Mexico in the Round of 16 before they were knocked out by Germany in the quarter-finals in a penalty shootout but if Messi and co. can continue on their merry way, the FIFA World Cup trophy may be heading back to South America, carried by Argentinean hands.