Lionel Messi’s return to international football certainly hasn’t gone according to plan.
The Argentina captain announced his retirement in June after he suffered heartache in the Copa America final, missing his penalty in the shootout defeat to Chile.
But if Messi’s return, which he announced in August, was supposed to inspire the Albiceleste, it really hasn’t.
The South American nation haven’t won in any of their last four matches and are in danger of missing out on the 2018 World Cup. Thursday night’s 3-0 defeat to Brazil leaves Edgardo Bauza’s team sixth in South American qualifying - needing to finish in the top four to automatically book their place in Russia - with seven fixtures remaining.
Messi, similarly to Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo, isn’t blessed with the level of teammates at an international level as he is with Barcelona.
Messi just can’t do it all. He received the best rating of any Argentina player last night by WhoScored, with a 7.05 rating, while only five of his teammates graded higher than 6.
Even Paulinho is performing tricks on Messi
Trailing 3-0, the Barcelona star was still chasing every ball. One moment in the second half perhaps summed up Messi’s international career.
He lost the ball to Paulinho and quickly proceeded to go after it. Then, Messi got turned by the Brazil midfielder’s Cruyff turn.
Go to the 4:32 mark in the video below to check it out.
Twitter couldn't believe it
Tottenham fans know just how surprising it is to see Paulinho rinse arguably football’s greatest ever player. Check out the reaction on Twitter below.
Argentina's form perhaps explains why Messi, 29, was willing to give it all up a few months ago. He can’t bare to think of failing with Argentina again (defeat to Chile was the fourth time he has lost in an international tournament final), but knows his country might not be good enough to compete with the likes of Brazil and Germany.
Will Argentina qualify for the 2018 World Cup? Let us know in the comments section below!
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