Could Nigeria end Messi’s international career?
In the modern era of association football, also known as ‘soccer’ to some, there are a handful of players who stand out above the rest. Overall the quality in the game has risen over the last few decades, but in reality, there are two that are consistently discussed amongst the greatest of all-time: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While the latter’s accomplishments speak volumes, we aren’t here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about the Argentine sensation Messi, as the 31-year-old prepares to try and lead the South Americans back from the brink of disaster once again. Their opponents Nigeria, however, have other plans this evening.
Throughout the course of his illustrious career, Messi has just about done it all from a domestic point of view. He has single-handedly dragged Barcelona out of a handful of tricky situations over the years and formed himself as one of the best players. The things that he can do defy logic at times, and other times, all we can do as fans is stop and marvel at his brilliance. Still, some people refuse to acknowledge him as one of the all-time greats courtesy of his international record. He’s still had a phenomenal career with Argentina, but when compared with the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele, his inability to win the World Cup or Copa America could impact his legacy.
He’s come close on several occasions, especially in reaching the 2014 final against Germany, but he hasn’t been able to take that next step. Now, there are several reports suggesting that Lionel could call time on his international career if he is unable to help them reach at least the knockout stages in Russia. This wouldn’t be the first time that Messi has retired after he did so following Argentina’s third successive final defeat at Copa America 2016, but this time, it seems like it could well be permanent. Messi hasn’t looked like himself from the word go at this tournament, with his penalty miss against Iceland highlighting the issues in confidence that have spread throughout Argentina’s squad. Nigeria, on the other hand, are relishing the opportunity to send the Argentines packing. They’re coming off the back of a big victory against Iceland, and they could put the final nail in the coffin of Messi’s illustrious time with the international team. The precursor to this showdown came back in November 2017 when the Super Eagles demolished Argentina by a scoreline of 4-2, but this time around, a victory could mean so much more.