This is not the end! Argentina moving forward, hopefully with Messi
At this point everyone in the world knows that Argentina has lost the Copa final once again. Yes, once again, because Messi and his national team have lost a final for the third year in a row following an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and a penalty-kick loss to host Chile in last year's Copa America. Three days ago we were celebrating the 29th birthday of the number one worldwide football star and now we are all sad about his performance with the Argentinian national team.
Clearly, it is not that he is isn’t a good football player, of course not…the five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, the main critical point is that he has never taken a trophy with Argentina's senior team. The critics in Argentina about Messi’s misses are now huge; there are thousands of jokes spreading out really fast through all social networks and media since the end of the match. Critics are really strong with Lucas Biglia as well, he missed his side’s fourth penalty leaving Francisco Silva to score the winner as Chile celebrated only their second ever-senior international title, but doubtless Messi is in the eye of the storm.
Even though the hard critics to Messi, we are all sad about his statement after the match… "For me, the national team is over," he said after defeat by Chile in the Copa America final. "I've done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion." Apparently and confirmed by some people around the football superstar, he will quit the Argentina national team after yesterday’s final, if this happens, we will not be able to watch his magical game once again in the next World Cup, definitely the best tournament for the international football.
"It's been four finals, I tried, it was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over" affirmed the football master. "I think this is the best for everyone, first of all, for me, then for everyone. I think there's a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it" added Messi, who made his debut for Argentina in 2005 and has played 113 times for his country. Monday 27th of June is a key date for Lio; it’s been 10 years, 10 months and 10 days since Messi made his debut with the Argentina national team on a friendly match against Hungary. These are only numbers, but he will definitely be our best number 10 ever! Although criticism in and out Argentina about yesterday’s final match, Lio has made a great tournament! He had scored five times at this year's Copa America, including a superb free-kick in the semi-final win over hosts the USA. That goal made him his country's record scorer with 55 goals, eclipsing the 54-goal mark of striker Gabriel Batistuta.
About his retirement from the national team, Argentina and Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero said he hoped Messi would "reflect" on his decision and reconsider. "I think he spoke while he was heated, because a beautiful opportunity escaped from us," said Romero. Sergio Kun Aguero described the mood in the Argentina dressing room as "the worst I've ever been in" and suggested others may follow Messi's lead. Argentine newspaper La Nacion thinks Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain are also set to retire, while ESPN Deportes reported Angel di Maria, Lucas Biglia, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ever Banega could follow suit.
As regards the Argentinian coach Gerardo Martino, everyone would say that he is also about to announce his retirement after being defeated by Chile but he stated after the match that we would continue coaching the national team even without Lio Messi. He sadly affirmed that the future is hard and overwhelming but different players along the history have been defeated but after a while they have stood up to keep fighting and finally moved forward. In this scenario without a clear timetable for Argentine tournaments, Martino must prepare the team to compete in the Olympics. The DT gave a shortlist of 35 players and has already confirmed nine, who, next Monday (July 4) will begin to train even though the final list will have to be submitted on the 18th of July. The Olympic Games begin on August 4 for the national cast against Portugal, while the opening ceremony will be on August 5. On the other hand, on September the 1st the National Team will play against Uruguay in the seventh round of the 2018 Playoffs Russia.
Hopefully, Messi and other players' announcement about their retirements are just early predictions and not finally real events about to happen… We can stand the jokes and the hard critics for the next couple of days, but after some time of reflection and meditation it will be time to move on. I agree with Martino that the time coming up for the Argentina National Team could be overwhelming but I’m sure we can forgive our national players once again and give them all of our support for the coming Olympics Games to be played in Rio really soon and the next World Cup to be played in Russia in two years. Now, it is time to train hard, enforce the team relationships, earn more confidence on their selves and maybe make some little changes on the team… but the most important, this is definitely not the end for the national team and not even for Lionel Messi in Argentina.
(Melisa Samaruga, young Argentinian-Italian professional, MSc in International Relations and Development. Graduated from the China and International Relations Programme from Aalborg University (Denmark) and University of International Relations (China). Freelance and passionate writer. Recent professor of International Issues and General Knowledge at CREST / Centre for Research and Social Transformation, Kozhikode - India)