This was Lionel Messi’s last real chance — his last opportunity to quiet the doubters and prove he was just as good if not better than Diego Maradona, or Cristiano Ronaldo, or god himself. Unfortunately, even the most ardent of Leo fans would have to admit the Messi World Cup performance was an abject failure.
Argentina was booted out of the World Cup with a 4-3 loss to Kylian Mbappe and France in the Round of 16 on Saturday in Kazan, Russia. The one-goal differential does a disservice to Les Bleus, who never looked like they were going to lose, even after going behind early in the second half.
Messi was barely visible in the match. Sure he had two assists, the first Argentine to do so since Maradona in 1986, but on the whole he was more of a decoy against France than anything.
It was emblematic of the Messi World Cup performance as a whole. He scored a brilliant goal against Nigeria, but was otherwise ineffective, particularly apparent with his tame penalty against Iceland. While much of this was down to opponents focusing their defense around the world’s greatest playmaker, Neymar and Ronaldo haven’t had a problem putting their imprints on the World Cup despite similar treatments.
Without a doubt this World Cup was a failure for Messi on all fronts.
Individually, he didn’t produce goals at the same level we expect from the man who scores almost at will at club level with Barcelona. That missed penalty against Iceland summed up his insipid World Cup.
As a captain, he allowed his team to fall apart, if reports are to be believed. The team’s infighting wasn’t quite as bad as France in 2010, but it was clear something was off about this team.
As a part of the Argentina team, Messi and his teammates never looked capable of making a run in the tournament, despite having mostly the same roster that reached the 2014 final.
This could have been the Lionel Messi World Cup, the moment the diminutive No. 10 staked his claim as the greatest player of all time.
Instead, he was upstaged by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe in the Round of 16 match against France.
Social media only cares about the present, but it was telling how quickly the memes circulating on Twitter excoriated Messi and turned Mbappe into a messiah.
A million words will be written or said about the dismal Messi World Cup performance in the days, weeks, years, decades to come. But for Saturday, as Argentina is dealing with another tournament without a trophy, here are some telling comments from social media.
Lionel Messi World Cup Memes
Messi is the first player in World Cup history to be a false nine and a false coach in the same game.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 30, 2018
Argentinas World Cup summed up. #FRAARG #WorldCup2018 #Messi #Ronaldo #Cr7 pic.twitter.com/3Y8XJLezmq— Faizz (@fzc77) June 30, 2018
One penalty missed
One massive disappointment #Messi pic.twitter.com/z6fUdreStg— RC (@FootballIndexRC) June 30, 2018
Scratch Messi right off your "GOAT" conversation. He is officially OUT of the conversation. He tried to play the iconic #10 role of Zidane/Maradona and in doing so sacrificed Dybala/Aguero.— Dostoyevsky (@KozielloEN) June 30, 2018
Mbappe was 10 times better than Messi pic.twitter.com/sXjXuEESm5— Thabo Moyane (@OfficiallyThabo) June 30, 2018
CR7: how many goals will you score against Messi?Mbappe: pic.twitter.com/r5BAr6StgH
— Uiisira (@uiisira) June 30, 2018
Thierry Henry + Ronaldo + Donatello = Kylian Mbappe pic.twitter.com/5625qNppFq— Fútbol (@Futbool_Fotos) June 30, 2018
Messi Twitter if Mbappe was Leo. pic.twitter.com/ZYKgaKV7Pd— MAJ¹³ (@Ultra_Suristic) June 30, 2018
Argentina defender and kylian
mbappe#ArgentinaVsFrancia pic.twitter.com/Nat1Hbgbqw— Ayman wagih (@Aymanwagih9) June 30, 2018
People getting rightly excited over Mbappe after his performance at 19.
Let's not forget though, the man they were hating on today, was doing this at 19.#WorldCup #FRAARG pic.twitter.com/Q4sjJQo7EF— CCFCFan (@CCFCFan1927) June 30, 2018