Lionel Messi has once again failed to taste success at the World Cup

Saturday - 30/06/2018 15:29
LIONEL Messi will go down as one of the greatest footballers to ever play the game, but he’s once again failed on the biggest stage of all.
Another World Cup with Lionel Messi walking away empty handed.Source:AP
Another World Cup with Lionel Messi walking away empty handed.Source:AP

AFTER years of tasting success all over the globe, Lionel Messi was hit with an all too familiar feeling after once again being eliminated from the World Cup.

Four times he’s made the trip to the World Cup and each and every time he’s walked away empty-handed — the latest mishap coming on Sunday morning (AEST) when France won a 4-3 thriller in the Round of 16 to progress to the quarterfinals at Argentina’s expense.

What makes it even worse for Messi is the fact that in eight knockout games at the Cup, he has failed to score a goal.

For a player so prolific at slicing through opposing defensive lines and putting the ball in the back of the net, it seems unfathomable that one of the game’s biggest stars hasn’t scored when it matters most.

The nation’s reliance upon its little master rivals that of the Cleveland Cavaliers and their years of riding LeBron James’ coat-tails.

And despite ending the stunning game against France with two goal assists, Messi wasn’t able to replicate his usual Barcelona displays.

Messi is a five-time World Player of the Year but heartbreak with his national team has become a case of history repeating. He ends the 2018 World Cup with only one goal to his name, which came in the final group game against Nigeria.

The Barcelona star is still looked upon unfavourably by many in his homeland compared to Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986.

Messi turned 31 last week and his chances of ending Argentina’s 25-year wait to win a major tournament may now be over.

Lionel Messi is left to contemplate another World Cup exit.
Lionel Messi is left to contemplate another World Cup exit.Source:Getty Images

Argentina entered the 2018 World Cup as an outsider with one of the weaker squads assembled in a long time, but when you have Messi, anything is possible.

And after being upstaged by France’s teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, we could be set to see Messi retire — for good this time.

Messi retired from international football following the Copa America tournament in 2016 after Argentina fell to Chile in a penalty shootout.

In the aftermath, with emotions running high, Messi announced his retirement from international football on the back of three defeats in finals in three consecutive years.

“I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion,” Messi said at the time. Less than two months later he reversed that decision.

“We need to fix many things in Argentinian football, but I prefer to do this from inside and not criticise from outside,” he said.

Sadly, things haven’t picked up for Argentina, who still relies heavily on the output of Messi and it was because of him it made it to the World Cup in the first place.

 

He’ll forever be remembered as one of the game’s greatest players, but it’s his history in the World Cup which will continue to hang over his head.

After a fourth failure on the biggest stage, he could join teammate Javier Mascherano who announced his retirement following the loss to France.

“It’s time to say goodbye and for the younger players to step in,” Mascherano said.

“Hopefully they can achieve something. Now I’m one more fan of the national team.”

— with AP

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