Lionel Messi Needs Epic Showing vs. Real Madrid to Silence Diego Maradona

Ethan GrantAnalyst IFebruary 26, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  Diego Maradona head coach of Argentina gestures to Lionel Messi of Argentina during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Argentina and Mexico at Soccer City Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Barcelona star striker Lionel Messi will renew his feud with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday.

In the process, he'll also renew the debate for the title of "Greatest of All-Time" with a fellow Argentinian who also wore No. 10.

After Diego Maradona's latest comments about Messi's place in the all-time history books, there's no doubt all eyes will be on the Barca star as he looks for a semifinal win in his club's Copa Del Rey semifinal match against Madrid.

Ben Hayward had the outspoken Maradona's comments posted on Twitter:

It's not the first time Maradona proclaimed himself the greatest footballer of all time, and it likely won't be the last. Fortunately for Messi, his latest chance to prove his worth at the G.O.A.T. comes at an opportune time—in the Clasico match against Madrid.

While there is certainly a lively debate about where Messi stands all-time, it should be noted that both Argentinian's have plenty in common when it comes to their exploits in the game. Both have been fixtures on the Argentina World Cup squads, are goal scorers that draw comparisons to each other and at the end of the day have brought plenty of honor to both Argentina and football as a whole.

That won't stop the debate.

Maradona's career highlights have been well-documented. When you have a goal nicknamed "The Goal of the Century," there's a pretty good chance your career has turned out to be one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

In addition to his successes with the Argentinian National Team, Maradona scored over 250 goals in club play and posted the highest-ever transfer fee (twice) during his club days. When his playing days were over he drifted into management where he hasn't had nearly as much success.

A controversial figure if there ever was one, his comments about greatness set up the perfect storyline for Messi in his club's second leg match at Camp Nou on Tuesday. Not only is Messi the fastest man to score 200 La Liga goals, but he's also one of the most decorated players in the history of a rivalry that dates back to 1903.

For starters, there are records to be broken.

As noted by Barca's official website, Messi has a great chance to break the all-time Clasico scoring record. His 17 goals are just one back of Alfredo Di Stéfano's 18, and his Real Madrid counterpart was no slouch during his playing career either.

Additionally, we'll get a chance to see the classic rivalry of Messi versus Ronaldo renewed. The two men have gone head-to-head a remarkable 21 times in their careers, and so far Messi has held the upper hand over his Madrid counterpart: ESPN's Paul Carr has that documentation on Twitter:

With all eyes on this Copa Del Rey semifinal, this is the perfect chance for Messi to kill two birds with one stone. While getting Barca back to the La Liga final (something that won't be easy in its own right)

Messi and Ronaldo has been one-sided. Maradona and Messi will never be documented on the field, but the accomplishments of the latter are already great enough to put him in consideration for the sport's designation of greatest.

When realizing Messi is really just getting started, there's little doubt that this match is for more than just a shot at the next round in Copa Del Rey action. With Maradona keeping a close eye on the successor to his popularity, Messi can further cement his upward rise towards the top spot on the list of the all-time greats.

Starting with Maradona.