In an awe-inspiring tale of football, Lionel Messi finally broke his duck with the Argentina team, leading them to Copa America glory in 2021. Berated heavily due to his failure to win anything substantial with the national side, La Pulga silenced all his doubters with this title in emphatic fashion. Despite the 2021 Copa America trophy being his first major title at the international level, Lionel Messi has a rich history with Argentina in terms of football.
Lionel Messi's international escapades with Argentina
Also eligible to play for an emerging Spain side, the loyal Barcelona veteran famously chose to represent the country of his birth, making his debut in 2005. His first outing in the national setup ended as a disaster, with Lionel Messi receiving a red card just two minutes after coming onto the pitch.
However, the footballing wizard has since bounced back in style, becoming his side's top scorer with 80 goals in 156 appearances. Earning the captain's badge due to his salient leadership skills, Lionel Messi guided Argentina to three cup finals, including the prestigious FIFA World Cup in 2014. However, his teammates' failure to come to their leader's aid ended up in Argentina losing all their finals.
Popular for single-handedly dragging La Albiceleste to safety on many occasions, Lionel Messi has been pivotal to his national side's resurgence of late. Keeping his unreal talents in mind, let's take a look at five instances when Lionel Messi saved Argentina with his heroics:
#5 Argentina vs Uruguay, FIFA World Cup qualifier (2-1, 2008)
Vying for a place in the 2010 World Cup, Argentina began their CONMEBOL qualifiers in style, registering convincing wins in all three of their opening matches. However, their impressive start soon came to an end with a 2-1 loss to Colombia in the fourth round.
With Alfio Basile as their coach, Argentina slumped to four straight draws following their loss to Los Cafeteros, stretching their winless streak to five games. With an upcoming game against footballing giants Uruguay, everyone expected the woeful Argentinians to continue with their abysmal record in the qualifiers.
Nevertheless, Lionel Messi started the match in style, putting his side on top after just six minutes. La Pulga's early strike instilled a sense of urgency in his teammates and inspired them to double their lead with a 13th-minute goal by Sergio Aguero. The valor and commitment of the 21-year-old promising attacker caused Argentina to snatch an unlikely victory from the hands of Uruguay, disrupting their five-match winless run.
#4 Argentina vs Colombia, FIFA World Cup qualification (2-1, 2011)
In the lead up to their fabled 2014 World Cup run, Argentina had to overcome several obstacles. With Brazil acquiring direct qualification due to their status as the hosting nation, Colombia proved to be Argentina's toughest adversaries.
With hopes of establishing their supremacy early on, Colombia welcomed Argentina on the fourth matchday of the CONMEBOL qualifiers. The home side drew first blood, with Dorlan Pabon scoring a wonderful free-kick in the 44th minute. And just like that, Colombia seemed on track to announce themselves as the strongest South American side in Brazil's absence.
However, a 24-year-old Lionel Messi looked like a man possessed on his return to the pitch in the second half. A young prodigy back then, Messi quickly started dismantling the Colombian defence and successfully snatched an equalizer in the 60th minute. His dribbling abilities and passing proficiency inflicted another blow on the ambitious Colombians in the 83rd minute. To finish off a Messi-influenced attack, Sergio Aguero adequately buried in a loose ball to hand Argentina the win at the last moment.
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