Lionel Messi finally gets that elusive international trophy.
Before the 2021 Copa America began, many fans and pundits wondered if Lionel Messi would get Argentina to the final and win that elusive trophy. He had led Argentina to a World Cup Final and two Copa America Finals, but he could not get them over the hump.
Soccer or football is a team game and if the manager has a bad game plan or the supporting cast does not play well enough it is hard to win an international tournament. At one point, Messi got so frustrated with falling short that he retired after losing the Copa America Centenario to Chile in penalty kicks.
He had this to say back in 2016.
“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion. It’s been four finals, I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over. I think this is best for everyone. First of all, for me, then for everyone. I think there are many people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it. It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back,” said Messi.
However, he decided to come back for the 2018 FIFA World Cup because he loves his country so much and wanted to win his first trophy at the Senior Level for them. Lionel Messi had a great tournament leading up to the final vs. Brazil. He was named the best tournament player; he recorded the most assists and directly influenced nine of Argentina’s twelve goals.
The big question entering the final if one of the Argentina players had an opportunity to score would deliver. Gonzalo Higuaín had missed several chances in past finals. He retired after the last World Cup.
Argentina changed coaches between the last two major international tournaments. They went from Jorge Sampaoli to Lionel Scaloni. Scaloni did a good job in his first international tournament by leading Argentina to the semifinals of the 2019 Copa America, but they fell short to eventual winners Brazil.
Messi did not have a great final by his standards, including missing a game-sealing chance and Angel Di Maria’s game-winning goal in the 22-minute mark. Messi has won an international tournament when he is mentioned among the all-time greats; they cannot say he has not won an international tournament.
Photo courtesy of the nytimes.com
Messi finally gets that elusive international trophy
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