Lionel Messi and Argentina after the Copa América-Aus: That's not it yet
Already ten minutes before the final whistle Lionel Messi stood in the field, as Messi stands in such moments just. Lost, his hands on his hips, he mechanically gripped his hair. Meanwhile, 50,000 euphoric Brazilians roared: "E-li-mi-na-do". For-ge-rail-to.
Argentina lost to Brazil on Wednesday night in the semi-final of the Copa América, 0: 2 (0: 1) in Belo Horizonte.
The proud South American football nation is already without a title for 26 years. Argentina won the Copa América in 1993. In 2007, 2015 and 2016, the finals of the tournament were lost, and always Messi was there. As in 2014 as Argentina defeated in the World Cup final Germany. And in 2019 it will be nothing again. Thus, the Olympic victory with the U23 selection in 2008 for the time being Messis only title in the national jersey.
"This team has a future"
The man who has won every major title in club football with FC Barcelona has to wait for Argentina with one of them - and the opportunities for this are gradually becoming scarce. Messi is just 32 years old and will be 35 at the Winter World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
The bigger chance is the upcoming Copa. As early as 2020, a South American championship will take place again, when Argentina will even co-host. Even though the finals will take place in Colombia, in the land of the other hosts, there is hope for the first important title since almost three decades.
That Messi will play along, may be accepted as safe. This time, there was no resignation as after the Copa America 2016 in the United States (from which he in turn resigned shortly thereafter). The superstar of FC Barcelona showed up after the game again combative. "We are three old and the rest are young, this team has a future." Oh well. The Argentine starter was on average 27.2 years old, not very young.
Messi quarreled with Ecuadorian referee Roddy Zambrano. "The whole tournament, they look at every nonsense on the screen, but today not a single controversial decision." The five-time world footballer felt that his team would have deserved a penalty, especially after 71 minutes, when team-mate Sergio Agüero stayed in a brace with Dani Alves in the Brazilian box. But the referee kept playing. And in return Brazil's Roberto Firmino shot the 2: 0. Argentina was outside.
"Messi is an alien"
So everything as always? No, many things were different this evening in Belo Horizonte. The two-time world champion showed his by far the best game in this South American championship, Messi was not only on the pitch, but played this time also with. At least in phases, he set his teammates in scene, shot dangerous free kicks. Tite, Brazil coach, later bowed to the Argentine: "Messi is an alien."
While the Brazilians had the first half, the alien team had a second half. But unfortunately, since he plays with ten earthly colleagues, no goal jumped out. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was then served because he felt the worse team had won: "It's extremely bitter to lose such a game," he said. He could not blame his team.
The South American classic was not really high class. Bad passes, long balls and misunderstandings caused little fouls and bad kicks. In the end, seven yellow cards were distributed, five of them to Argentinians. The game was far from the quality that characterized earlier duels between the two teams. But at least it was passionately led and there were goals. That is not a matter of course with this Copa.
Bolsonaro's performance caused cheers and whistles
On Sunday, the Brazilians will play the final in the Maracanã Stadium against the winner of the Chile match against Peru, which will be played during the night on Thursday (2.30 CET, Stream: Dazn).
And then there was the most disturbing moment of the evening, when there was no player on the pitch. Brazil's right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro felt the euphoria needed to take advantage of the semifinals of the Seleçao and set off with his bodyguards on a small stadium round. He waved and threw kisses in the audience. Then the president waved the Brazilian flag with a dramatic gesture. One half of the stadium whistled Bolsonaro mercilessly, the other celebrated him. So populism goes today in Latin America.