Being Lionel Messi: The Loneliest Job in World Football? , football news

He stepped up to the occasion and almost shamelessly slotted in his first goal of FIFA 2022, becoming the first Argentine to score in 4 World Cups.
Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammad Al Owais didn’t really stand a chance against Lionel Messi even once Argentina A penalty was awarded in just the 7th minute of the game. He dived the wrong way – a clever little stop just before kicking the ball and Messi sent the ball in the other direction. Can’t blame the keeper. He was staring at a player who is undoubtedly one of the best ever. Messi celebrated with his teammates – he had a big smile on his face.
But then the story changed drastically – after the final whistle, Messi wore a sad look, to say the least. Shoulders slumped, a familiar face on his face, the walk back toward the tunnel was slow and laborious. It was almost as if he could imagine the World Cup trophy slipping away – once again. Argentina suffered the biggest defeat in the history of the tournament. Played – 1, Lost – 1.

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(Photo by Catherine Iville / Getty Images)
Think of Lionel Messi and you will think of two things – one of the best footballers of all time, and a superstar who is yet to win a World Cup.
With Barcelona FC, Messi has conquered it all. He also has the Copa America title with Argentina. But the greatest reward among them is still far away. And that in itself is a lonely place to be.
All his comparisons with his illustrious predecessor and compatriot Diego Armando Maradona end with the same statement – ​​’Maradona won the World Cup, not Messi’.
The ongoing World Cup in Qatar is still in its infancy and yet there are already so many talking points and controversies that it is becoming difficult to keep track of them all. And one of the biggest questions has once again been – can Messi finally get his hands on the World Cup trophy in what is surely his last outing on the world stage? If he does, it will also take him ahead of another man from this generation who would comfortably find a place among the greatest players of all time – Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Portugal has never won the World Cup and realistically isn’t likely to, at least for a while. Not many expected Ronaldo to lead Portugal to the title. Things are very different for Lionel Messi.
Will Messi be able to win the World Cup? If hearing this oft-repeated question gives you a sense of déjà vu, don’t blame yourself. It is a question that has been asked since their first appearance at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
There are probably two different reasons for this – 1. Messi is arguably one of the best footballers of all time, but his legacy is incomplete without a World Cup medal. Imagine if Maradona had not led Argentina to the 1986 title. How different will his legacy be? There was a very palpable sense of heartbreak when Argentina went down 0-1 at the last hurdle against West Germany in the 1990 final. Andreas Brehme with his goal in the final not only gave the West Germans the World Cup title, he effectively ensured that Maradona would have only one World Cup title on his resume. And that ties in with the other reason – 2. It’s been a long time since the Albiceleste last won a World Cup – 36 years to be exact.
But is it fair to expect one man to live up to the expectations of an entire nation? Well, it may not be fair, but it has happened many times before in the field of sports – just ask Sachin Tendulkar. And then work becomes not only very difficult, but also very lonely. Teams change, coaches change, venues change, but the pressure of expectations keeps on increasing. Indian cricket fans are well aware of how important the 2011 ODI World Cup trophy was to Sachin Tendulkar. The whole team wanted to win the title for him. It is the same with the Argentine squads that have played in the last few editions. FIFA World Cup – They want to win it for Messi. But the wait still continues.
The wait was almost over in Brazil in 2014, when Messi was within sight of the trophy. But the Germans were in Argentina’s way at the final hurdle – and the Albiceleste faltered, going 1-0 down after extra time. Messi was awarded the Golden Ball, but it almost felt like a consolation prize. After all, the Golden Ball is not a World Cup trophy. Messi’s facial expression after that final was not much different from the one he wore after losing to Saudi Arabia last Tuesday. He had the Player of the Tournament award in his hands, but his face was extremely sad. Though he wasn’t just sad, he was lonely.

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(Photo by Catherine Iville / Getty Images)
After a forgettable tour last time out in Russia, Messi is back on the world stage once again as captain of an Argentina team that aims to end a 36-year wait. Argentina went into this edition of the World Cup with form under their belt. After a record-equalling 15th Copa America – their first major title in 28 years, Messi’s Magic win the Blue and sky white shirt for the Finalissima title earlier this year with a 3–0 win against European champions Italy in the final.
The buzz was that 44-year-old former Argentina wing-back Lionel Scaloni had managed to bring the team together and make it click as a unit. They were riding high on a three-year, 36-match unbeaten streak.
And then it ended. No one, probably not Saudi Arabia and probably not even their fans, expected the two-time champions to lose in their very first outing and that too against the lowest ranked team in their group.
Let’s face it, the Saudis played some exceptional football, especially in the first half. Let us not forget that the only goal Argentina scored in that match was a penalty, while both of Saudi Arabia’s goals were excellent field goals. The goalkeeper who had given Messi the penalty later made some fine saves to prevent the white and sky blue shirt to ensure the Saudis held on to their slim one-goal lead. They deserved to win that match. Let us also not forget that in that match, three goals of Argentina were disallowed for playing offside.
Think of Messi in the midst of all this. Here is someone who is expected to lead Argentina to the title. But football is a team sport and Messi’s magic alone is not enough in the World Cup. We have seen this in many versions so far. And that’s what makes Maradona so special. He led Argentina to the title in 1986 – playing every minute of all their matches and scoring 5 goals and providing 5 assists in the process. He was declared the winner of the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player of course, although Gary Lineker overtook him for the highest goal-scorer award with 6 goals. And then Maradona almost single-handedly led Argentina to the final in the next edition in Italy in 1990. But either way, as things stand, such a feat looks like a mountain that may be too high for Messi to climb.
The list of Messi’s own awards and accolades is astonishing. He’s won it all, really, except the World Cup. And at the age of 35, playing in his 5th World Cup, the little wizard is once again finding himself in a very lonely corner.
When Messi could not get his hands on the trophy in all the four previous editions, he could go back to the comfort of the club that gave him everything and made him the superstar that he is – Barcelona. This time, even that comforting hug is missing.
Of course the World Cup campaign in Qatar is far from over for Argentina and they could effect a dramatic change in fortunes, but Messi knows that if things don’t go well this time, they probably won’t next time.
Next up for Argentina is injury-ravaged Mexico on Sunday (27 November). The Mexicans are also having a disappointing performance – a 0-0 draw against Poland. It very well could have been 1-0 for the Polish but for a stunning save by Guillermo Ochoa.
No team can afford a wrong move. And yet the stakes are high for Argentina and Messi.
1978 – Daniele Passarella, 1986 – Diego Maradona, 2022 -?
Can Lionel Messi add his name to that list or will he remain in that lonely corner?

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