The World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany is now another game that will haunt me forever.
Argentina had better chances – or actually gifts from the German defenders – to score, but it was exactly what Gary Lineker said one day: “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”
Looking back at how Argentina performed throughout the tournament, it was a joy for the eye.
Well, if you were expecting the best forward players in the world to score 10 goals a game, then you were surely disappointed. Argentina played beautiful defence, whether you liked it or not. Before Sabella existed, Argentina never knew how to defend. Sabella did the best thing to ensure this squad makes it to the semi-finals – at least – for the first time in 24 years. He created a defensive system that I haven’t seen anything like it when it comes to the Argentina National Team. He knew his team’s weaknesses and worked hard to turn them into strength. Sabella succeeded in doing so, and showed extraordinary skills crafting the system he played with during the tournament.
However, while paying extra attention to the defence – which, again, was the only way to make it to the semi-finals – Sabella undermined the super attack he had and disengaged the midfield from the front line. He only depended on Messi to do what Messi wanted to do. Messi in return, scored half the team’s goals and created many others. He sacrificed himself for the team and always had 2 or 3 defenders from the opposition trying to take him down. He did not sit in the attack and waited for balls that will never reach him but rather sat deep in the second third of the pitch and created something out of nothing. He may have disappeared in the semi-final match, and in the second half of the final match, too, but he was instrumental why Argentina reached a World Cup Final for the first time in 24 years.
The “disappearance” of Messi resulted in anger by the fans when he was handed the tournament’s best player. I was the first to slaughter Messi and refute the choice, but I was wrong to an extent. I forgot the golden rule that humans should not make statements or take action when under any kind of extreme emotional influence.
To be fair with Messi we should list the following:
- Messi was over pressurized by media, fans, and everyone to win the World Cup on his own. He was asked to be a god.
- Comparisons with Maradona were the only thing he ever heard; to the extent he forgot his own name.
- Muscular burnout and fatigue were obvious to the eye but we decided to overlook them. He was vomiting all over the pitch, in the Final, while we were criticizing him.
- Without Messi’s goals, Argentina would have earned only 2 points in the Group Stage and left the competition early. That’s how Argentina is weak, even though the opponents were mediocre teams at that stage.
- Messi was given the role of the leader and he only accepted it so as not to be faced with treason. He never led a squad by his spirit or presence and always depended on his performance and goals to gain popularity.
- Aguero, Higuain, and some others did not play well, but were not criticized as heavily as was Messi.
- Sabella chose Gago to sit in the playmaker role, and both failed miserably, while Pastore and some other names could have done a better and much needed job.
- Lavezzi played a great first half against Germany, but it will remain unknown why he was subbed off at halftime.
Messi was made the scapegoat when Argentina failed to win the Final. Fact is: If Argentina won, no one would even care about the physical and mental state of Messi.
I am disappointed that Argentina did not win, and sort of confused if I should celebrate the best tournament achievement in 24 years or retreat in tears.
But what I am sure of is that I am worried about Messi. Is Messi’s body failing him? Is he mentally obsessed with stuff we do not know? Is he stuffed with titles and trophies that he doesn’t have anything to play for anymore? Did he lose passion for the ball? He needs to be checked by a psychologist, physiotherapist, and every possible doctor alive.
Between 2008 and 2014, Messi gave us some mesmerizing football. We should be thankful for that. For the better of the game, and for our own benefit, let us hope that he gives us at least four more years of extraordinary displays and plenty of goals.