Another final and another defeat for Lionel Messi spelt a somewhat anti-climax to his season, which has been extraordinary. When Alexis Sanchez scored the most audacious penalty kick to confirm Chile as the Copa America winners, Messi was left to rue another final with Argentina where he has been on the losing side.
Almost a year to the day Messi cut a lone figure in Brazil where Argentina had been beaten by Germany in the World Cup final. Seven years prior it was the same story when again Argentina were runners up in the Copa Amercia. However, at that point in Messi’s career he had just turned 20 and had many tournaments to put that stat right.
But in losing this match the question marks will remain over Messi’s international career. The great man has only shown in small bursts what he does for Barcelona week in and week out. Fans will still be divided as to his greatness though, and comparisons with fellow countryman Diego Maradona will rage on. Maradona was able to lift his nation, infamously winning the World Cup in 1986 and returning for another final where they narrowly lost to the Germans in 1990.
It’s not just the fact though that Messi isn’t winning with Argentina, critics can also point that Messi isn’t the same player. Last Saturday night the greatest player on the planet for whatever reason was not able to create a solidarity magic moment against Chile. A moment that would have settled the match.
Messi by and large had a very average tournament, scoring just one goal in the group games, although his play was generally unselfish and he did set up another three goals.
At the World Cup last year it was much of the same from him. Cutting a frustrated figure, it would be easy to think that Messi doesn’t enjoy the game when watching him play for La Albiceleste.
But perhaps the answer is simple and Messi is simply exhausted. He played 57 games for Barcelona last season and of course won everything there was to win with the club. He put in dazzling performances and formed an incredible partnership alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez.
But being jaded simply won’t cut with fans and historians and Messi’s time is running out on the international stage.
Luckily for Messi he doesn’t have to wait another four years for the Copa America to roll around. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the tournament, which means a special edition of the competition will be played.
So Messi has at a guess two more Copa America’s and two World Cups to put his record straight with Argentina. But the question remains will Messi ever be able to reproduce his devastating form for club on a consistent basis with his national team? We could know the answer as soon as next summer.
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