Lionel Messi has named Nigeria’s Super Eagles as one of the most tough sides he has faced on the international stage.
The 34-year-old has faced Nigeria in three World Cups, in 2010, 2014, and 2018, and has scored three goals in those encounters, including a brace in the 2014 match.
He also faced Nigeria at U20 level, scoring a brace from the penalty spot in the final to help Argentina beat Nigeria, and he assisted Angel Di Maria’s winner to give Argentina the gold at the Beijing Olympics.
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Messi was questioned about the teams he has faced from all continents and what he thought of them in the aftermath of Argentina’s recent Copa America victory. Nigeria was his choice in Africa.
“It’s always intense in Nigeria.” They are a physically strong, dexterous, and unexpected team. It’s never easy to go past them, even when we’ve had the upper hand in recent games,” he remarked.
How Many Time Has Lionel Messi Faced Nigeria?
In four official games, Messi has faced Nigeria. The Argentine had won the Uefa Champions League a year before their encounter at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and he had faced Nigeria on three previous occasions.
Final of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship
Messi Vs Nigeria 2005
Argentina and Nigeria met in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship (U-20 World Cup) final, with Messi, then 17, being one of the tournament’s youngest players and clearly the smallest.
The Barcelona youngster was on the winning team, as his brace helped Argentina to a 2-1 victory. Messi was the tournament’s top scorer with six goals and was named the best player.
His squad Barcelona defeated Arsenal FC to capture their second UCL title a year later. Despite the fact that Messi did not play in the final due to injury, he was a member of the tournament’s squad and appeared in a few games. He was named the best young player of the year in Gillette.
The Olympic Games in Beijing held in 2008
Messi vs Nigeria In 2008 Olympics
In the final of the Beijing 2008 olympic soccer competition, Messi and his teammates faced off against their old adversaries once more. Argentina triumphed once more, with Messi demonstrating his class.
Angel di Maria was set up one-on-one with the in-form Ambrose Vanzekin, who sprinted out only to be thrown over by Di Maria. It ended with a score of 1-0.
Barcelona overcame Manchester United in the 2009 UCL Final with Messi on target a year later, with a new coach and a lot of new faces. The team won the treble and went on to claim the Sextuplet, changing history.
South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup
Messi vs Nigeria In 2010 World Cup
This time it was in the group stage, but one thing remained constant: Argentina won. Messi was fantastic, but an inspired Vincent Enyeama in Nigeria’s goal kept him out on numerous occasions.
In the sixth minute, his saved shot resulted in Gabriel Heinze scoring from a corner kick. The game concluded 1-0 in Argentina’s favor, however the tournament did not go as anticipated, as Argentina was beaten 4-0 in the knockout stages by Germany.
The next year, Messi’s Barcelona won the Champions League final for the second year in a row, in what is regarded as the “finest show of modern football.” In a year in which Barcelona only narrowly missed out on the Copa Del Rey, Messi received his third consecutive World Player of the Year Award.