On Tuesday, Argentina faces a do-or-die match against Nigeria. Despite having one of the world’s best players — Lionel Messi — Argentina has only managed to score one goal so far. CGTN’s Dan Williams has more on their disappointing performance.
It has been a frustrating World Cup so far for one of the games greatest players, Lionel Messi, as the burden of carrying Argentina’s hopes appears to have taken its toll on the star forward.
Argentina now faces the embarrassing prospect of crashing out of the competition at the first hurdle. To progress, Argentina must win their final group match against Nigeria and then hope Iceland doesn’t win their final game against Croatia.
“How do we play this match? With our hearts,” said Argentina’s coach Jorge Sampaoli. “Argentina has to play with its heart and this is what I am trying to convey. This team is absolutely determined to win the match and advance to the round of 16 and to start a new page in this World Cup.”
Despite a lengthy list of stunning achievements, Messi has yet to win either a World Cup or a Copa America title, South America’s regional tournament.
Over the weekend, at the team’s training base on the outskirts of Moscow, local residents attempted to show their support, celebrating Messi’s 31st birthday with a giant cake. But that also acts as a reminder that time is running out for Messi on the international stage. For Argentina fans in Red Square, their hope is that some of the other players can step up and take on some of the responsibility.
“He just needs better support from his team mates,” said one man. “It seems like it happened before at the previous World Cup. Everyone is looking at him to be the team basically where everyone should be doing their part.”
But others remained confident that Messi and the team will rise to the occasion.
“We are going to win, of course,” said this man.” We’ve got the best player ever. We didn’t start well but we got the best player and we have a great team.”
For most football fans, the knockout stage of a World Cup without Messi and Argentina is almost unthinkable. But sporting greats are renowned for producing big performances when the chips are down. If that is true, the stage is now set for a Messi masterclass.