A look at Lionel Messi's record in tournament finals
The whole footballing world was in shock when they heard one of football’s greatest, Lionel Messi, announce his retirement from international football. The announcement came after Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the Copa America Centenario final on Monday.
This was the third consecutive final that La Albiceleste failed to win since 2014. All three times, Lionel Messi was the captain for Argentina and now he has decided to take responsibility for the South American country’s failure by quitting the international team. The 29-year-old has received some criticism from football followers and pundits for not showing up in the final. Some of them have even termed Messi as a ‘choker’, but is that the truth? Let’s take a look at Messi’s record in big tournament finals for both Argentina and FC Barcelona.
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Lionel Messi has led his country to three finals – 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America Centenario. Even though Argentina put up great performances, they ended up on the losing side on all of the three occasions.
La Albiceleste played the 2014 FIFA World Cup final against Germany and the game looked to be heading towards a 0-0 draw, before Mario Gotze, who came on a substitute, worked his magic and scored the winning goal for his country. Messi drove 4 shots in the game but failed to hit the target. He also played 2 key passes during the game for his teammates, but Argentina failed to break the deadlock.
The Copa America final of 2015 was played between Argentina and hosts Chile. The game was controlled by Messi’s side but the brilliance of Chilean goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, forced the game to end in a 0-0 stalemate after extra time. The game went to penalties and Gonzalo Higuain skied his spot-kick before Bravo won the game for Chile after saving Ever Banega’s penalty. Messi was silent throughout the game and was only able to record one shot and one key pass during the game.
History repeated itself in 2016. Last year’s winners and runners-up again faced each other in this year’s Copa America – which was held outside South America to celebrate 100 years of the tournament. The game went to penalties again and like last year Bravo saved a crucial penalty from Lucas Biglia which paved the way for Chile’s win. Messi wasn’t allowed to weave his magic by the Chilean defense but still he managed to drive two shots of which one was on target, while also providing one key pass.
Messi was also the part of the Argentinean team that lost 3-0 to Brazil in the finals of 2007 Copa America, in a game in which La Albiceleste were thoroughly outplayed.