Lionel Messi Cruelly Bottles Argentina’s World Cup Dream

Lionel Messi was at the center of everything good for Argentina, but he was unable to convert when it mattered most.

“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion…It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.” These are the words Lionel Messi uttered following Argentina’s Copa America final defeat to Chile, and once again, the significance and truth behind the sentiment rings loud and clear. For whatever reason, the greatest player in the history of the game just cannot reach the heights expected of him on the international stage.

Messi was at the center of everything good for Argentina against Peru on Thursday night, but it just never came off. Some of that was down to some heroic defending from Peru, some of it was down to the wastefulness of his teammates, but some of it was also down to Messi not seizing the opportunity to become the hero La Albiceleste were so desperate for on the night.

Without allowing their individual reputations to proceed them, when simply applying a completely one-off analysis to this side (although you could certainly include any learnings from Argentina’s qualifying cycle as a whole), this nation has absolutely no business at the World Cup. They’ve been turgid, unbalanced and uninspired, but that’s poetically reflected in the table.

What’s the point of Angel Di Maria? Is there even the remotest possibility that Ever Banega could ever contribute something positive? Is there a striker in all of Argentina capable of doing a goal? 

 

The sooner this Argentine qualifying campaign is over, the sooner we can all get back to doing something not so emphatically ass-hat for 90 minutes. But let’s, for the penultimate time, run through this s**t.  

Again, Messi was at the center of everything good for Argentina in the first half, although this strategy usually begins with the Barcelona man receiving the ball 40 yards from goal with 10 defenders in front of him. 

In the 38th minute, a clever corner routine ended with Messi receiving the ball at the top of the box. His first-time effort on goal was blocked, almost certainly preserving the deadlock for Peru. He then whistled a solo effort just wide of the upright. 

In the 45th minute, Messi sent a looping cross from the left-hand side straight at Dario Benedetto but the Boca Juniors striker angled his header narrowly wide.

Early in the second half, Messi should’ve given Argentina the lead. With the goal gapping, he sent an effort off the post.

After that, we've got Papu Gomez saved, assisted by Messi; Rigoni miss, assisted by Messi; Benedetto saved, assisted by Messi; Messi free kick into the wall; Messi shot blocked; Messi shot blocked.

In the end, Paraguay's victory over Colombia has proven a miracle for Argentina. With Peru set to play Colombia on October 10, victory over Ecuador would still send Argentina into the playoff at the least, but my God.

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