Things are really getting messy in Russia for Argentina’s Lionel Messi; the man at the forefront of every debate as to who is the best footballer in the world today. With the weight of the entire Argentine population on his shoulders and millions of fans waiting for his magical moments, the diminutive midfielder is struggling to make his mark.
This is supposed to be the year the 30 year-old talisman finally deliver silverware in Argentina stripes, to cement his greatness; but now after his team three nil defeat at the hands of Croatia things are getting sticky.
Debate rages on
So now the debate rages on about him being the best player in the world as the man who has won every silverware available at the club level, and has 64 goals in 126 appearances for Argentina, fate hangs in the balance.
He lost the 2014 World Cup final against Germany, as well as two Copa America finals, along the way.
But although Messi is both the general and team captain is it really his fault; or is it his team mates?
He continues to shoulder the blame for the 2014 World Cup demise; but it was really teammates like Aguero and Higuain that failed to convert easy chances that could have won the game.
Missed penalty could haunt
Should Argentina go out in group stages this year, Messi will be long remembered for the penalty he missed against Iceland and rightfully so; such is life Lionel no margin for error.
Messi’s persona is not like that of Neymar or Renaldo to demand more from the players around him and that might very well be to the extent to which he shares the blame.
But truth be told Argentina with a wealth of talent does not play as a unit and fail to utilize Messi’s ability to the fullest.
A “broken team:”
In the words of former Barcelona team-mate Cesc Fabregas, providing analysis on BBC One, Argentina a “broken team” and he questioned their team spirit, saying they were “playing against each other, not for each other”.
He said: “It is difficult for Messi. He does not have the quality in behind him and is really missing Ever Banega or Giovani lo Celso.
“He needs someone who can help him build up the play. You want your best player to be on the ball the most as you can.”
I have to agree with Fabregas. Sometimes you get the feeling some of Messi’s teammates competes against him rather than play off his abilities for the purpose of the team. It’s almost as though they play with a free pass should things go bad.
Coach lost for explanation
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli was lost for explanation after the Croatia defeat.
“I am just as dreamy-eyed as any fan and I am very hurt,” said Sampaoli.
“Messi is our captain, he leads the team and we quite simply couldn’t pass to him to help him generate the situations he is used to. We worked to give him the ball but the opponent also worked hard to prevent him from getting the ball. We lost that battle.
“Some of the players didn’t manage to play with my system; I probably didn’t set up my team in the right way.”
Anyway, it’s not over till it’s over and Argentina is clinging for dear life like they did in the qualifiers before some Messi magic propelled them to Russia. For Messi to lift the cup this year it will take all that and more.