It was a cool summer’s evening in New Jersey when Argentina took on Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final at the MetLife Stadium. It was the second time they would meet in South America’s biggest football competition after facing each other at the 2015 edition in Chile.
La Roja were victors that year and La Albiceleste would have been keen to get things right but they never did, with Chile prevailing 4-2 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.
One player hard done by the effect of the loss was Lionel Messi who called it quit immediately after the game.
“For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion,” said the Barcelona man in what was his fourth major international final at senior level including the 2014 World Cup final.
It was probably too much of a pain to bear that there was no success in any of them. Not also forgetting that his rival Cristiano Ronaldo – who is always neck and neck for records and accolades, lifted the Euro 2016 Championship in France.
???? #WorldCup Goals Scored:
???????????????????????????? Harry Kane = 5 Goals in 152 minutes
???????? Lionel Messi = 5 Goals in 4 World Cup tournaments
— SPORF (@Sporf) June 24, 2018
Argentina were in the midst of qualification for the currently ongoing 2018 World Cup and after multiple pleas from his home country and outside, Messi reversed his decision but things didn’t go smooth for South America’s second largest country in qualifying.
The Albiceleste were outside the automatic places for much of the qualifying campaign and were in danger of missing out of the tournament if they failed to beat Ecuador in their final qualifier and other results elsewhere went against them. Just as we’ve seen Messi do it time and time again, he scored a brilliant hattrick in a 3-1 victory which sent Argentina through.
Four years ago today, Lionel Messi scored twice as #ARG beat #NGA 3-2 at the #WorldCup in Brazil. "Messi is from Jupiter," the late Stephen Keshi said afterwards. Ahmed Musa netted both goals for the Super Eagles. pic.twitter.com/jYbclPWQYZ
— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) June 25, 2018
In preparation for the World Cup, Jorge Sampaoli’s had some terrible results, losing 4-2 to Nigeria and bashed 6-1 by Spain. It clearly showed that the team was in disarray and Messi would be in for a tough outing in Russia which has proved to be the case. The two-time world champions have just a solitary point after two game, needing a win at all cost against the Super Eagles on Tuesday if they are to make it out of the group phase.
Reports are also circulating that there is a breakdown in relationship in the Argentine camp with coach Sampaoli and certain players including Messi deciding themselves whether they will take to the field in Saint Petersburg or not.
The Rosario native has been a rather peripheral figure in Russia, losing a penalty to Iceland and seeing very little of the ball against Croatia. This was supposed to be his last genuine shot at winning the coveted World Cup trophy that will rank him beside the legendary Pele and his countryman Maradona but with his team in shambles and not certain of going all the way even if they make it out of Group D, it was probably wrong for the 31-year old to come out of his initial retirement.
It has been Lionel Messi’s desire to win trophies on the international stage with brilliance arguably second only to Cristiano Ronaldo. A player hungry for success, Messi has given his all to the national team, showing selfless and flawless leadership skills but all that has counted for nothing because the national team has lacked mangerial stability and the players not giving their 100%.
This has left Messi to carry the burden of the team which he did with exception because without his influence, the Albiceleste would never have made it to the 2014 World Cup final as well as the 2015 and 2016 Copa America final.
His decision to retire in 2016 though humiliating was the right call but now faces even bigger disappointment. The national team should have tried to work things out for him at least in a bid to please him and make him realise he isn’t finished yet.
2016 was however the finish line and entire Argentine nation must apologise to the Barcelona all-time top scorer, for putting him in more misery.
Would Messi have any regrets for coming out of international retirement? What would be his fate if Argentina fail to deliver at the World Cup? Let’s have your thoughts in the comments box.
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