Why Messi needed to win Copa America
While Messi is widely considered to be the best club player of all time, his stamp on the international stage has not been as spectacular.
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Messi took Argentina to the final, but failed to secure a win. As a consolation, he was voted player of the tournament. However, he wasn’t able to hold the World Cup like another fellow national, Maradona who won it back in 1986. Fast-forward one year from the last World Cup and Argentina made the final of the Cop America, but Argentina once again fail at the last hurdle.
Of course to take your team to both finals is no small feat, but for Messi it is important to win for Argentina on the world stage. The reason is simple, Messi is compared to Maradona and many debate over who is the greatest player in Argentina’s history. While Messi certainly has better statistics than Maradona at club level, Maradona has tasted World Cup glory. However, Maradona never won a Copa America and this was Messi’s chance to bring that cup home. The last time Argentina won a Copa, Messi was but 6 years old. And the last time Argentina won the World Cup, Maradona was in the team. Argentina really needed Messi to win today, but it was not to be.
In Copa America final, Argentina lost to the hosts Chile on penalties. It is unfortunate for him to get so close and lose at that stage of the game, especially when you consider that Argentina were probably the better team overall. But that is football. It is generally a low scoring game, and even a dominant team can lose a game if it is well defended.
So how important was a win for Messi in the Copa America. These quotes from the Argentine after his three assists helped set up a spectacular 6-1 win of Paraguay answers that question.
“We really want to win this one, we are very hopeful,”
He later added:
“Winning the Copa would round off something spectacular,”
Messi is 28 years old, so he will have other opportunities to win at international level, but his time is running out. Perhaps he has one or two more chances at the Copa America and FIFA World Cup left. His best achievement at international level so far is winning the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and finishing as both the best player and top scorer.
What do you think. Does he have what it takes to win a World Cup or Copa America? Or will his legacy be bound to Barcelona and the European leagues that his club participates in. Does he even need to win a World Cup or Copa America to be considered better than Maradona?