Lionel Messi Is Filled With Rage
Apart from being yet another disappointment in a major international competition, the 2019 Copa America will be remembered in Argentina as the moment when Lionel Messi, who is usually calm and collected, finally blew his top.
Infuriated by what he and many of his compatriots saw as biassed refereeing during the Albiceleste’s semi-final loss to hosts and eventual winners Brazil. The Barcelona star was sent off in the third-place play-off after going toe-to-toe with fearsome Chile enforcer Gary Medel.
His subsequent press statements earned him a three-month suspension from CONMEBOL, as well as widespread acclaim from observers who aren’t used to hearing the quiet superstar speak.
“I felt we’d been robbed, that we deserved to be in the final, and that we don’t have to be a part of this show.” Messi said after refusing to participate in the medal ceremony following Argentina’s victory over Chile. “We don’t have to be a part of the graft that has plagued this tournament.” Now, two years later, he’s returned to the scene of his previous rage, and this time it’s personal.
This is Leo’s sixth Copa America with Argentina, and it was brought to Brazil by a series of strange last-minute decisions.
The Albiceleste captain had hoped to host Group A of the competition on home soil, but due to the severity of the Covid epidemic and social unrest, both Argentina and Colombia withdrew from hosting duties less than a month before the competition began.
With few other options, the Copa was forced to return to Brazil for the second year in a row.
The Reigning Champions Will Be Out Of Support.
The reigning champions of Tite will be without the support of thousands of fans due to the pandemic, but winning their last nine competitive matches. The most recent on Sunday, a 3-0 victory over a Venezuelan side missing 12 players due to the virus they look even more formidable this time around.
Both Chile and Colombia gave Lionel Scaloni’s side the lead – the former thanks to Messi’s penalty past old Barca teammate Claudio Bravo. Before being pegged back and having to settle for a point. Despite Argentina’s failure to win in their only two matches in 2021, there is reason for optimism in the Argentina camp.
The emergence of Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and Atalanta’s Cristian Romero, added new steel and class to a historically troubled area for the country.
Martinez recovered from a horrific collision with Colombia’s Yerry Mina. As fitting a welcome to the rough and tumble of South American football as any and is set to stay ahead of Franco Armani in the pecking order for Monday’s opener. Romero will miss the Chile match due to injury but will return later in the tournament.
It’s still a young team with plenty of flaws to work out. Despite lacking some of the star power of previous great Argentina teams, the 2021 edition is capable of causing some surprises in Brazil.
Only a succession of top-class saves from Bravo and Colombia No.1 David Ospina stopped him from scoring a hatful in the qualifiers. He seems enthused by the experience of playing alongside a renewed Argentina team based around the talents of relative newcomers like Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul and attacking partner Lautaro Martinez.
Only Bravo And Colombia’s No. 1 Made A String Of Outstanding Saves.
As for Medel, the rivals showed no lingering resentment from that previous dust-up, smiling and posing for photos together after the match. While ‘Pitbull’ even made off with his erstwhile sparring partner’s shirt.
Only Bravo and Colombia’s No. 1 made a string of outstanding saves. He was denied a hat trick in the qualifiers by David Ospina, and he appears enthused by the prospect of playing alongside a revitalised Argentina team, which includes relative newcomers. Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, and attacking partner Lautaro Martinez.
Medel and his former sparring partner showed no lingering resentment after the match, smiling and posing for photos together, and ‘Pitbull’ even stole his former sparring partner’s shirt.
Monday’s match is the start of what will hopefully be a long and arduous journey to the trophy for Argentina. Scaloni’s team will play four times in the next two weeks, starting with tough matches against Uruguay and Paraguay in Group A before finishing the first stage against Bolivia.
While only one team of five from each group will be eliminated, there is still little room for error. If Argentina falls short of finishing in the top two, they will face the daunting prospect of facing Brazil in either the quarter-final or semi-final, a match that the country would prefer to save for the final at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
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