One Argentine at least is in the running to win something at the South Africa 2010 World Cup. FIFA’s ten-man shortlist for the Golden Ball, awarded to the tournament’s best player, has been announced, and although he didn’t score the governing body’s technical team have included Lionel Messi in the list, along with his Barcelona team-mates Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and David Villa. La Pulga is taking a well-deserved beach break in Rio de Janeiro as I type, but will be back in action soon, playing a UNICEF charity match he’s organised.
Messi’s shortlisting by FIFA just confirms that he’s been far better and more well-accepted by the team during this World Cup than he’d previously looked for Argentina, and offers the side a lot of hope for the future, I would think. It’s also recognition of the fact that his lack of goals, at times, came from truly inspired performances from opposing goalkeepers and (on one occasion) from Carlos Tevez poaching a shot from him that already looked like it was heading in, to me at least. Messi is in Rio with his girlfriend for a couple of days before heading to Panama on Wednesday for a friendly between a ‘Rest Of The World XI’ and a ‘Friends Of Lionel Messi’ team for UNICEF. There’ll be another charity match, in Sao Paulo, before he heads back to Barcelona to start pre-season training on the 1st August.
The rest of the shortlist for the FIFA award is: Xavi; Andrés Iniesta; David Villa (all Spain); Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder (both Netherlands); Diego Forlán (Uruguay); Asamoah Gyan (Ghana); Mesut Özil, and Bastian Schweinsteiger (both Germany).
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