Messi’s Argentina, the fall and rise
June 26, 2016 Argentina vs Chile in the final match of the Copa of the Century at MetLife Stadium in America. After 90 minutes and extra time, the match is heading to a shootout. Lionel Messi takes the first kick for Argentina. Chilean goalkeeper Claudius Bravo to guard the net.
The tournament is Argentina’s only hope after two successive finals.
The burden of losing the finals of the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America tournaments is on the heads of Messi and his team.
There was even a rumor at the time that this was a tournament made for Argentina, who had lost twice in the finals. A long international title drought is haunting the team and Messi without a title in the national jersey.
All this may have come to Messi’s mind before taking that kick. I don’t know why that kick misses. Argentinian fans will never forget what happened next at the MetLife Stadium.
Argentina loses in the final. As in the 2014 World Cup final, as in the 2015 Copa America final, the 2016 Copa of the Century saw Argentina lose to Chile at the last minute.
The next thing Argentine fans hear is that their superstar Lionel Messi has retired from football. Its news posters are still plastered in contexts related to the Argentine team.
Now let’s come to Messi, in the 2006 Germany League Cup, Messi tied his boots for Argentina in the World Cup. Argentina’s superstar Riquelme played in the only World Cup in 2006.
Argentina entered this World Cup hoping to lift the cup in hopes of Riquelme, who controlled the game from the middle of the field.
As a team, Argentina played beautiful football throughout the group stages of the tournament. At the end, in the quarter-finals, Argentina was eliminated from the World Cup by a penalty shoot-out against Germany. A teenage Messi had little to do in this World Cup. But then Riquelme’s team managed to win the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The 2010 South Africa World Cup really marks the start of Messi’s career in Argentina. After an unbeaten run to the quarter-finals, Argentina were knocked out by Germany in the quarter-finals just like in 2010. The defeat was a one-sided four goals. Again the Argentinian fan cries. They sing the poem that they are not the ones who rush after seeing the cup.
Then the Brazilian World Cup comes after a long wait of four years. Despite Messi’s golden age in his rise to legend when this tournament took place, Argentina were never among the World Cup contenders.
But Argentina’s surge continued to the final thanks to a Messi squad that included Higuain, Di Maria, Mascarano, Aguero and Sergio Romera. But Argentina’s title ambition ends again after losing to Germany in extra time by one goal in the final.
The victory over Holland in the semi-finals of this World Cup is considered to be a current Argentine fan favorite win. Choosing Messi as the player of the tournament was like winning the World Cup for them.
Later, until the Copa America was won in 2021, this final achievement was the only thing that Argentine fans had to talk about in fan fights. They kept saying that we were finalists in the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
After the aforementioned 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments, Messi’s Argentina comes into the picture in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. At the time, the Argentinean fans were wondering if the team would qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Argentina sealed their ticket to Russia with a 3-1 win over Ecuador in the crucial match.
Argentina did not get off to a good start in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup. Argentina lost to Croatia 3-0 in the second match after drawing with weak Iceland in the first match. Again disaster strikes the team.
However, the third match in the group was a time of upheaval. Messi, who had yet to score in that World Cup, scored against Nigeria. That goal was remembered as long as Messi is in the hearts of Argentine fans. Nigeria scored a goal back in the match but won through Roho and the team qualified for the prequarters. But in the pre-quarters, the team lost to France, the world champions of that year, but was eliminated. Later, they lost to Brazil in the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America. Disaster strikes again.
But Argentina never looked back. Fans were able to witness the rise of Argentina, who went on a 36-game unbeaten run under former coach Lionel Scaloni, who was assistant to former coach Sampaoli. The run included an international title after 28 years and a Copa America-Euro winners’ tournament Finalissima achievement.
Argentina are gaining confidence after beating Brazil in the Copa and Italy in the finals. It is this race that Qatar lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia, which is not so famous in world football, in the World Cup.
Argentina is losing again in the middle of big wins. After 36 straight wins, the team has lost its first match in the first round of a major tournament.
Argentina is becoming old Argentina. There may be a comeback. Or lose out. But fans’ interest in Argentina is unlikely to change. Because the Argentina they are used to seeing and studying is like this. That is the beauty of Argentina.
CONTENT HIGHLIGHT: A special write up about Lionel Messi’s Argentina, the fall and rise