For the last dozen years, Argentina has been looking ahead to world star Lionel Messi to steer their eleven to a serious international trophy.
But once the the country required the five-time Ballon d’Or winner most, Messi did not emulate the feats of Diego Maradona in 1986 — once for a few he nearly single-handed won the globe Cup.
Four times Messi has lined up with Argentina during a major final — the 2014 World Cup and Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016 — however when they need lost.
He has typically come back beneath criticism for failing to breed his metropolis type once carrying the sky blue and white jersey of the national team.
Now, before a appetising Copa semi-final against hosts Brazil in urban center, Argentines are merely looking ahead to Messi to show up.
“This is that the match for Messi to look,” screamed Ole newspaper’s on-line edition when Argentina beat Venezuela 2-0 to secure the Brazil semi-final.
Ironically, at this tournament, whereas Argentina’s performances are rising steady, Messi has, if something, recede influential .
Argentina were all stumped in their gap 2-0 defeat to Colombia and required a Messi penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw with Paraguay..
But within the 2-0 convince Qatar that qualified Argentina for the knock-out rounds, and therefore the quarter-final triumph over South American country by an equivalent score, Messi became a progressively peripheral figure.
‘Not at my best’
He admitted the maximum amount when the Venezuela match, saying: “I’m not at my best level, I’m not taking part in however I hoped i’d. I’m not having my best Copa America.”
Brazil center-back Thiago timberland isn’t therefore convinced, though.
“For me, Messi is that the best player in history, the most effective I’ve ever seen play. It’s a privilege to play against him,” aforesaid a player who hails from the country that created Pele, Garincha, Socrates, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.
Messi turned thirty two throughout the tournament and whereas he doesn’t seem on the point of retirement, it can not be too a few years away.
His game has modified over the years and he not produces an equivalent quite, or amount of, darting runs at the center of opposition defences.
He plays deeper than he wont to, passes a lot of and is more selective along with his runs.
He additionally rests over he wont to and took an eight-month break from the national team following the globe Cup in Russia, solely returning in March during a 3-1 friendly defeat to Venezuela.
But he’s over simply the star of the team of late, he’s the leader and captains each club and country.
During the club season, Messi took the lead in defensive Philippe Coutinho, whom he can line up opposite on weekday, from criticism levelled at the Brazilian playmaker within the Catalan press.
Messi additionally defended metropolis boss Ernesto Valverde against the brickbats.
And here, whereas his and Argentina’s assaultive performances are nothing to enthuse concerning, Messi took the time to praise the team’s defensive efforts.
“Defensively we tend to didn’t have any issues and therefore the team was terribly solid in the slightest degree times,” he aforesaid following the Venezuela triumph, that he delineate as a “complete” performance.
And Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni acknowledges that Messi brings far more than simply brilliance on the sphere.
“For Pine Tree State he provides an important contribution on the pitch, and if you saw everything he brings within the dressing room…” aforesaid Scaloni.
“Messi is Messi, he’s the most effective.”
Before the tournament began, a lot of of the speak was concerning whether or not Messi might ever land the one issue missing from his spectacular list of accolades: a global trophy.
He’s won the Champions League fourfold, La Liga ten times and therefore the Copa del Rey sixfold with metropolis, however nothing major with Argentina, who haven’t won something since 1993.
Tuesday’s semi-final in urban center appearance tailor created for the Messi of previous.
Brazil have however to concede a goal within the competition however despite victories of 5-0 over South American country and 3-0 against Bolivia, they looked ponderous and lacking imagination within the 0-0 attracts against Venezuela and Paraguay..
The semi-final guarantees to be a good affair, within which a flash of Messi magic can be enough to settle it.
Argentina is waiting and praying for simply such a flash.