Basically, every quantifying adjective has been used to describe the Argentine genius. but a stick with which some beat Lionel Messi remains his failure to lift a major trophy with the national team. This article comes after Brazil won 2-0 to progress to the final where they will meet Peru. To be fair, Lionel Messi was below his best for most of the competition.
Anyone who watched a single Argentina match in this Copa shouldn’t in a way have expected more than what happened. The squad looked disjointed from the start and made it this far because of moments of brilliance, VAR and luck. This squad had no realistic chance of really making the final much less winning it. The fact Messi didn’t play well showed Argentina was considered because the best player in the world was amongst them. That he returned to play for Argentina shows that even the best of us will always return to a toxic relationship out of a sense of loyalty.
The team wasn’t in sync and that showed against Paraguay during the 94th minute with the score 1-1. An example was when Lionel Messi had the ball and embarked on a run but had Eight players blocking his path. This match in which he had mostly been a spectator, but anyone who watches Barcelona play will attest to the fact he can change the dynamic of a match in a second when given the ball. That belief is another thing lacking within the national team. Not a single Argentina player was within reach to offer a passing option to put pressure on the Paraguayans. Even the greatest talents need a good supporting cast to aid them.
People use Cristiano Ronaldo as an example of testing yourself elsewhere forgetting he started gaining recognition under Sir Alex Ferguson. With a supporting cast containing the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs when they won the champions league. He left England to join Real Madrid whose squad adds a new superstar almost every transfer window. Currently, he plies his trade with Juventus who aren’t Levante or Southport. Even the Portugal national has a good structure compared to Argentina. The stability they now enjoy under the guidance of Fernando Santos, came after they were thrashed 4-0 by Germany. In the 2014 world cup no less, and never even made it past the group stage. Whereas, Argentina made it to the final using a system mirroring that which Portugal uses today.
If players such as Pele, Raul, Giggs and Maldini have made their names playing for a single club why can’t Lionel Messi?. His goals plus assist statistics over the last 15 years are second to none. Luck hasn’t shined mercifully on him in the finals of an international tournament. His only achievement was the Olympic gold medal he won with Argentina. The fact he made it to the finals with a squad of superstars with no idea of how to play with themselves is an achievement in itself. Giving up is not an option for him despite disappointments which have derailed lesser men.
A player who has played in four major international finals including the Fifa world cup should not in any way be called a flop. That’s not a coincidence but consistency resulting from pure excellence. That he was unable to win any should not take anything from what this man has accomplished in football. His trophy collection, rivalled by only a select few is a testament to the qualities of Lionel Messi.
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