Lionel Messi has now gone past Diego Maradona for World Cup appearances and goals – and the Argentina number 10 has pulled exactly level with his predecessor on two important statistics that showcase their creative brilliance.
Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 win over Australia carried Argentina into the quarter-finals, with Messi scoring the ninth World Cup goal of his career to put Lionel Scaloni’s team 1-0 in front in the first half.
That nudged Messi ahead of Maradona’s career haul of eight goals, while he has moved to 23 World Cup appearances during this tournament, two ahead of his late compatriot and fellow number 10 shirt wearer’s previous national team record.
Messi is just one behind Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 10 World Cup goals with Argentina, and he may have that in the back of his mind ahead of Friday’s last-eight clash with the Netherlands.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward is picking off records as he goes during this tournament, and he will surely overtake two more Maradona marks in that clash with Louis van Gaal’s team.
That is because Messi and Maradona are now exactly level when it comes to chances created and open play chances created at the World Cup.
They have both created 67 chances, and with each man, 48 of those chances have come about in open play, Opta data shows.
Messi created four chances in all against Australia, including a golden opportunity for Lautaro Martinez that the substitute ballooned wastefully late in the game as Argentina looked to put the game beyond their gallant opponents.
Where Maradona beats Messi is in goal assists. Maradona’s eight from 1982 to 1994 beats Messi’s haul of six assists to date, since his World Cup debut at the 2006 finals.
Maradona was the driving force behind Argentina’s 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico, and later coached the national team, notably at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
He died in November 2020 at the age of 60.
Saturday’s game against Australia was the 1,000th of Messi’s career for club and country.