Lionel Messi’s glittering career with Barcelona has been well documented by many writers around the world, but so is the disappointments he has endured while playing for Argentina. It is pretty harsh to blame him alone for the last gasp defeats in search of a silverware for Argentina. In many instances, he has carried the hopes of a football crazy nation alone on his shoulders and has performed reasonably well. In this article, we look at five memorable performances from the maestro for his country,
5. Versus Bolivia, Copa America Semi-final, July 1, 2015
Argentina were the firm favourites to win this one after their run to the final of the World Cup in 2014. Paraguay were high on confidence after eliminating Brazil in the quarter-finals. While many expected a thrilling contest, what followed was a thrashing for the ages thanks to Lionel Messi’s performance. Argentina took the lead after Messi’s precise cross from a set-piece was duly converted by Marcos Rojo. Pastore scored Argentina’s second after a neat pass from Lionel Messi. In a comical moment in the second half, Messi’s fast feet resulted in Paraguay’s defenders tackling each other in the lead-up to Di Maria’s second goal. Although he did not score a goal, Messi registered a hat-trick of assists to take Argentina to the final.
4. Versus Ecuador, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, October 11, 2017
Qualifying for the World Cup can be a tricky proposition for CONMEBOL countries since it involves a gruesome schedule with 9 away games. Without Lionel Messi, Argentina lost some crucial games and needed a victory in their last game against Ecuador to ensure World Cup qualification. Ecuador scored first to stun everyone but a lovely piece of link-up play between Messi and Di Maria resulted in an equalizer. For his second goal, Messi snatched the ball from the opposition defender’s feet and finished cleanly. Another piece of sublime finishing resulted in a hat-trick for the little magician as he saved his country yet again.
3. Versus Panama, Copa America Group Stage, June 11, 2016
In their opening game of the Copa America 2016, Argentina registered a 2-1 victory over defending champions Chile without Lionel Messi. Messi was back for the second game against Panama and put on a brilliant performance once again. He extended Argentina’s lead in the 68th minute after a defensive error from Panama. 10 minutes later, Messi earned a free-kick after being fouled few yards outside of the box and converted it with absolute nonchalance. Another defensive lapse provided Messi some space to shoot and register a magical nineteen minute hat-trick registering smash hit Messi’s Performance.
2. Versus Brazil, International friendlies, June 9, 2012
Almost seven years later his debut for Argentina, Messi got his first International hat-trick against Brazil in a performance for the ages. The game itself was a superb thriller with Argentina coming from behind three times to register a 4-3 victory. Messi equalized for Argentina in the 31st minute after a through pass gave him a chance to run clear and finish cleanly. A very similar pass three minutes later resulted in Argentina taking the lead with Messi going around the keeper this time and finishing with ease. The winner was the highlight as Messi cut inside from the right flank and his shot from outside the box thudded into the top left corner of the goalpost.
1. Versus Nigeria, 2014 World Cup group stage, June 25, 2014
Messi’s performance against Brazil might have been more aesthetically pleasing, but the brace against Nigeria was the more important one since it ensured Argentina finished on top of their group. This was a thriller too as Nigeria equalized twice to make things very interesting. Messi scored in the third minute after Di Maria’s deflected shot fell into the path of Lionel Messi. Nigeria equalized immediately but Messi once again gave Argentina the lead with a sublime free kick. Nigeria opened the second half with another goal but Messi’s corner in the 50th minute was converted by Marcus Rojo to send Argentina to the Round of 16.