Don’t let Messi down again

Messi

An open letter to the Argentine National Football Team:

Hey fellas, how’re you all doing? Tata, it’s been a while. Hope life outside of Barcelona is treating you well.

Congratulations on making it to the final once again. Reaching the final of any tournament is in itself a great achievement, but you guys have now done it three times in a row. Three major finals in three years. Yes, I know that some of you weren’t even in the squad for the 2014 World Cup, but nevertheless, here you are, just one step away from being legends for your country.

I’m sure I won’t have to warn you or remind you of the dangers the team you’re facing poses. They may no longer have the inspiration of Jorge Sampaoli on the sidelines, spurring them on, and are arguably worse off than they were last year. That shouldn’t be a reason for any of you to sit back and be complacent, though. They demolished a good Mexico side a week ago and put two past Colombia before everyone had taken their seats. They’re probably the best passing side in South America, and their press is second-to-none. You guys will have to be at the top of your game: hungry, aware and accurate, if you want a different end result.

As most of you can tell from the title, this article is about one man on your team, who this victory would mean more to than anyone else. A major tournament win would be celebrated wildly all over Argentina, but one man needs this trophy more than any of you do. I really shouldn’t need to tell you who that man is; he’s been your MVP for this tournament and the tournament MVP for the previous two as well; your captain, and the world’s best, Leo Messi.

He has pretty much everything. He’s a proud father of two kids, with his long-term girlfriend who he’s known forever. He plays for the best club in the world, is loved by hundreds of millions of people around the globe and if that wasn’t nearly enough, he’s arguably the greatest player to have set foot on a football pitch. Not a bad state to be, in, is it? And you may be wondering why I’m telling you all of this? Am I rubbing it in to get under your skin? Is this my strange, pretty nonsensical way of making you feel sorry for Messi?

The answer is no to both. The point I’m trying to make here fellas is that the man has everything, but he would probably give up a lot of it for victory tomorrow. All the awards, the accolades, the goals, assists, and trophies, he would probably give up in the blink of an eye for a trophy with his beloved home country. Ever since he pretty much stepped foot on a football pitch, there was only one man he was compared to, who has been somewhat of a thorn in his backside. Diego Maradona led Argentina to their second World Cup all the way back in 1986, and ever since the search has been on to find someone who can emulate him, who can lead them to a period of dominance on the global stage; who can be an idol for them and make them dream.

Messi was destined to be that ever since his first coach put him into a game and he had an instant impact. The shadow of Maradona has loomed over Messi for a long time, but at club level, he’s been able to step out of it to an extent that wouldn’t have been possible for any other player. He is undoubtedly the most successful club player of all time. It’s with Argentina that that shadow has been a huge weight on his shoulders. He hasn’t won a major trophy with the senior team yet, even after two major finals in the last two years, and while initially his failures with you guys could be attributed to his lack of form, in the past two or three years it’s mainly due to a lack of support that he doesn’t have a senior gold medal to his name.

Yup, you read that right guys. You may look around and think that you aren’t to blame, but the reason he’s sitting there desperate to win against Chile on Sunday is because you guys let him down when it counts. Twice in two years, he’s been at the doorstep, knocking, inches away from winning a trophy for his people. Both times, he’s been let down by the very people who should be helping him up, propelling him to the front so he can do what he does his best.

In Brazil, Gonazalo Higauin missed a glorious chance early on and Palacio missed one at the death. Against the Germans, that’s two chances more than you should expect. Gotze scored, the World Cup was Germany’s and Messi was left thinking of what could have been.

20140714messi-wins-award-as-best-player-at-world-cup

Against Chile, a year ago, you would think that there was no way you would throw this away, especially after the way you played in the semi-final. This time, you got closer, to penalties. We all know who the only Argentine scorer in the shoot-out was, don’t we?

You’re at that same stage once again now, against the same team. This is your moment. This is Leo’s moment. This has been his greatest international tournament so far, and he looks fresher and more motivated than ever before. You simply can not mess this up for him anymore; him not having an international trophy to his name, especially after three major finals, will be a football crime of the magnitude of Johan Cruyff not winning a World Cup.

All this victory needs is a lot of focus, a bit of selflessness and a few magical moments from Messi. Every single one of you deserves credit for getting this far, and you’re almost there guys. Keep it together for 90 more minutes,get Messi as involved as possible and the results will be there before your eyes: the Copa Centenario trophy, in all its glory.

90 more minutes, fellas, can make or break the best player in the history of the game, and it’s all in your hands. Give it your all, and don’t let him down.

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty

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  • Marc

    Higuamiss has hurt messi internationally. He better not do it again. twice he could of settled these games when through on goal, twice he flopped. We shouldn’t be surprised though, guy was the same in madrid, that’s why they sold him. I’m pretty confident argentina will be 10x better in the world cup when Dybala takes over that role. Tata needs to fix the fullback positions, a CB and a CM. Fernandez is ok but argentina suffers playing too many DMs. Banega is like the guy to control and pass and even he isn’t world class at doing that but good enough, mascherano to protect, they need a guy to control and penetrate like iniesta or argentina are just gonna keep relying on messi to provide creativity as it comes from no one else. Pastore is there but can’t even play for psg and it has hurt his progress, he’s so much crap now, Lamela is a full fledged winger now, biglia is just another dm like player. Tata and sabella both avoided using di maria in midfield, there must be a reason why, that’s where he played and dominated for real madrid. Tata is a fool for leaving correra and dybala behind.

    This could of been the team for this copa and should be the team for world cup unless some young talent appear in the next two years.

    Romero – Buffarini Mussachio Mori Ansaldi – Di Maria Mascherano Banega – Messi Dybala Correra.

    Mercado is so bad going forward and so slow, otamendi is so error prone.. was so happy when barca vetoed going for him, Rojo is trash at defending, basically marcelo without the skill,, watch as chile target his side relentlessly, what makes anyone think he can play lb. either correra or drift dybala out wide and play icardi through the middle. Di maria at madrid ran a lot and created plenty, every since he left, he’s been out wide and has played worst cause that nullifies too much of his skill. give him more freedom to roam and see exactly what di maria can do. all barca fans can attest to how much we hated playing against this guy. Never feared ronaldo in my life but bloody hated this guy. I still expect them to beat chile barring a bad night from you know who but as for world cup, this current team isn’t good enough.

    • Steve Savera

      Well Higuain missed another easychance to put argentina through to the win.
      Messi just doesn’t perform in the finals…..It is always him failing for some reason and today he missed the penalty when he could have given his team ag reat advantage after Vidal miss.

      • Marc

        Yea, he’s taking some blame for this one. As a barca fan, you just kinda saw it coming with the way penalties went for MSN this season.

        But everything happened as I thought it would. Higauimiss does it again, aguero comes on and does nothing, chile pressure messi and argentina created nothing from no one else, AFA clearly should check their coach history cause once again as barca fans we would of never hired tata, tactically dumb and clueless, the way he had argentina play in the final was ridiculous. Everyone who keeps saying argentina are world class and can win a WC clearly don’t watch this argentina team properly. No balance, bunch of overrated players begging for messi to carry them. I’m glad messi is retiring, no need to tarnish his career anymore playing these guys. He probably regrets not choosing spain when he had the chance too, loyalty to your country yielded no reward. Marcos Senna didn’t care though, he chose spain and won a world cup.

        • Pius Kamau

          Couldn’t have put it better, the 2010 Spain team with Messi would’ve been 80% Barcelona. Anyhoo I have a headache trying convince some fans how overrated and average Argentina players ACTUALLY ARE for the NATIONAL TEAM but teaching a 3 yr old kid quantum physics seems easier.

        • HappyHighJumper

          Except for occasional flashes of brilliant, I think Di Maria is generally useless. Believe me, I can totally do without seeing that grin on his face following another miss/flub. I’m sure it isn’t the case, but I always feel that he’s playing with little true effort, and last night he put more emotion into objecting to being subbed than being beaten. A lot of this I put down to Tata the coach. His teams never seem fired up and the individual positioning he selects, to say nothing of the line-ups, always seem wrong. And does he ever make good subs, or tactical changes?

          I feel bad for Messi. I wish his teammates could of read this spot-on open letter. They just don’t show up to finals with a sustained winning focus. Last night the first 20 minutes they looked quite dominant, but then that focus and energy just seemed to disappear entirely. They just didn’t find that burning desire to force that ball into the net. How many half-decent opportunities to blast a shot towards goal disappeared into another lackluster futile pass towards a wing? Too many, that’s for darn sure!!! Why does Huguin look, and play, like an over-weight old man in the finals?

          Gotta give Chile credit for stacking around Leo so suffocatingly much of the time when the ball got to his feet. But overall, the failing was his Argentina teammates, and coach, who thoroughly let him down again, one more time. Alas, one last time.

          Sad to see Leo playing with such a weight (his teammates) on his shoulders. Like an albatross. Why, oh why, couldn’t they raise their game when needed. You could feel the difference in Chile’s team-vibe and drive so evidently.

          I feel Mascherano was a clear exception to the letting down of Leo, and that his game last night was really quite strong. I feel for him also and similarly applaud his retirement from international play. Similarly I think Lavvezi was an unfortunate injury, as his effort was clearly present in previous matches.

          On a positive note, it will be good that Leo will not again suffer the FIFA bug (and suffer he has). Not one more time, not ever again.

        • Steve Savera

          The biggest example was Vidal missed but his teammates backed him up. Where were messi teammates? They never do anything in return for him. Bunch of ungrateful bastards.

        • Eivind Niclasen

          Also, I doubt that Messi would ever have been dragged to court by the Spanish authorities had he chosen Spain over Argentina all those years ago.

        • i agree with you

  • Pius Kamau

    I feel really bad for Messi and Argentina in general, they deserved at least 1 cup having featured in 3 back to back finals.
    I’m done with Higuain after watching his one on one miss AGAIN that could’ve changed the outcome of the match. The negativity and the pressure got to Messi and he’s now hang his boots if the reports are to be believed.
    I just don’t get how Argentina’s forwards are so wasteful and lack productivity in front of goal.

  • Rezur Rexion

    I’m sorry but Messi is not playing to the best of his abilities. He cooled down last season, and is more relaxed on the pitch.

    Past Messi was a beast.

    • Eivind Niclasen

      He is still creating chances and dribbling, so I am not 100% sure what you mean. It may be that the number of spectacular dribbles has gone down a notch in recent years, but a lot of those fizzled out in front of goal during the Guardiola years anyway. He has become better at preserving his strength through games, while remaining a vital player. Also bear in mind that teams are far more defensive now than they were 6-7 years ago. Times have changed and catenaccio is the order of the day. Just watch the Euros in France, if you are in doubt.