Lionel Messi: The price a sportsman pays for being a God
When Messi walked towards the tunnel, the dejection was clearly visible in his body language. He did not look back, pulled-off his captain’s armband and walked real slow, as if tons of weights were tied to his legs. One could feel the pain, going deep down his trembling heart.
The pain, of not being able to live up to the expectations of fans around the globe, who expect the master to score every time he enters the opponent’s den. The expectations are cruel, create enormous pressure and may push the mortals to believe that their Gods have not done justice to their own eminence.
The pressure never ends, even after a match or a tournament. Over the last couple of weeks, I went through so many pieces written post Argentina’s defeat (0-3) against Croatia. Most of the articles have callously gathered and published stats around the minutes that Messi has spent on the ground without scoring a goal in World Cup.
Some are concerned that he has scored majorly against a nation, which doesn’t have a credible history in the game of football. He’s been trolled badly on social media platforms, compared to a sheep, and has been the centre of attraction on all sports-related debates.
Analyzing Messi is the flavour of the season and everybody is ready with their expertise on La Pulga’s technique and temperament.
Those Goals-less 765 minutes, (over last 12 years) describe the agonizing journey that Messi, arguably the greatest player of all time, has to wither. This piece of statistics has been the part of almost every article that has been published after Argentina’s untimely exit from the most prestigious event in the world of football.
Messi hasn’t scored a single goal since 2006 in World Cup knockout matches, though he was impressive in the six assists during all those games, including the two against France on that fateful evening.
So much has been the love for statistics that people often forget to enjoy the essence of the game. Thanks to the over efficient paparazzi and advent of social media, everyone now is an analyst, who tries to show his knowledge with meaningless tweets or posts.
Conveniently enough, they forget the skills players show on the ground or the pain they go through when the form is not on their side. All they remember is the numbers which a player comes up with after a match.
There are people who would compare Messi’s form when he plays for Barcelona versus when he plays for his country. The enviable track record of 32 trophies, including 9 La Liga titles, 4 UEFA Champions League, and 6 Copas del Rey titles only adds to the horror when they are placed against ‘0’ World Cup titles.
Winning the leagues for his club has turned out to be Messi's biggest enemy as he hasn't been able to replicate the success when he plays for the national team.
The pressure is not only on Messi. After Portugal’s defeat against Uruguay, Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t spared either. Thanks to another piece of analysis, I now know that Ronaldo, over the last few years has played more than 500 minutes of football in the knockout stages of the World Cup, but has failed to score and provide an assist.
The missing piece of statistics in the trolls or the analytical articles were the 4 goals he scored out of 6 by Portugal (in WC 2018), and that apart for him only Pepe and Ricardo Quaresma scored; 1 goal each.
The exit of Argentina and Portugal has given people a chance to troll the players, whom they have worshipped over the years. Football is not the only sports, where this has happened. In 2006, Sachin Tendulkar, who is dubbed as the God of cricket was ‘booed’ on his home ground when he struggled to make 1 run after spending 34 minutes at the crease.
He faced 21 tantalizing deliveries before he edged one-off James Anderson. After giving 17 long years to his country and the game, he received ‘boos’ when his form hit a rough patch.
Sardar Azmoun, who is also known as ‘Iranian Messi’ is the latest casualty to ever-mounting pressure of media, critics and fans. At the age of 23, he is a real sensation with 23 international goals to his name in just 35 caps.
Sadly, he announced the retirement after the bashing he got, when he failed to score in the three (3) matches of world cup 2018. The career, which was promising enough to bloom like a flower was nipped in the bud.
We need to understand that a player’s position in the team is always defined by his/her performance. Needless to say, if the performance is less than admissible then the strong bench strength will always be ready to make it to the ranks.
The high-performance teams are always made up of players who can perform consistently well. Then there are people in the board who are capable enough to take a decision on what has to be done with a player if their form hits a low. There is no need to create ripples of negative energy through social media or needless discussions to gauge higher TRPs, as they severely impact the personal lives of our sportsmen.
Please remember, there must always be an effort to find a scope and avoid the coup!