Argentina without Lionel Messi is like love without feelings
What would love possibly be like if there was a lack of feelings between two souls? Would it even be love? Feelings, as we all know, is the foundation of love. Without it, there can’t be love—only a pair that would resemble death more than life.
On the other end of the spectrum, a couple that bore strong feelings for each other ooze the image of life. A soulful endeavour that fills the hearts of others with hope, that there might be meaning to something after all.
To understand all of this, all one has to do is watch the Argentina football team—with and without Lionel Messi.
When the Barcelona star features for his country, they resemble a dove. Without him, however, La Albiceleste display the colours of a raven. The life seems to get squeezed out of Argentina whenever the reigning Ballon d’Or holder doesn’t feature for them.
It is very easy to criticise Argentina for losing three finals in a row. After all, making your fingers dance over the keyboard is much easier than dancing with the ball. Hence, when Argentina lost their recent final against Chile, and that too on penalties, the critics were out and in full flow. And it was just too much for the best player in the world.
Lionel Messi’s decision to retire might have been a wrong one, taken out of pure impulse, but perhaps it was necessary. They say that you only realise the value of someone in their absence—and that is precisely what happened, for, without Messi, Argentina were playing like a bunch of footballers who couldn’t fathom the meaning of their undertakings.
Post Copa America 2016 was a difficult period for the fans. Argentina had only won one of the seven games in which their captain didn’t feature, and all three when he did. Thousands of fans took to over the streets pleading their hero to retrace from his retirement call. Messi had to, even if his people didn’t implore him.
Argentina might have been outclassed by Tite’s inspired Brazilian side, but he wreaked havoc against Colombia. Scoring once and assisting twice in a 3-0 win. It was a much-needed one, and Messi took it upon himself to the right the wrongs and got his nation back on track for qualification.
At his best, he is a like a scenic beachside sunset on a clear sky—merging with the horizon and weaving the true meaning of love. It might only be for some moments to the outside eye, but it leaves an eternal mark on the heart and the mind of the observer.
The stats suggest the same as well. Argentina has played five games with Lionel Messi in the World Cup Qualifiers and has won all but one. Without him, Bauza’s men took on the pitch seven times and won only once.
That’s not all. Argentina’s combined win percentage for the World Cup 2014 and 2018 qualifiers, without Lionel Messi’s mark on the game, is an astonishingly low 27%. Indeed, La Albiceleste has lost only thrice since the 2010 World Cup in matches where ‘La Pulga’ featured.
These stats are a telling testament to his importance for his national team. They might have lost the finals, but they wouldn’t have even been there in the first place if it weren’t for Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi could have just gone on to represent Spain and engraved his name as the greatest player of all time, having won the World Cup 2010 and Euros 2008 and 2012, but he opted for the country of his birth. And he never exudes a look of regret about making that choice.
The former Newell’s child has gone on to become one of the greatest players of all time. The only thing that he lacks is a cup with his beloved Argentina. He might never see this dream come to reality, but the underlying truth will always be the same: he didn’t fail his national side, the national side—along with his team-mates—have failed him.
As long as Lionel Messi plays for Argentina, it will be a romantic affair bulging with an intense feeling that the viewers would fall in love while witnessing. Without him, however, people might just lose faith in true love.
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