Saturday, July 4, 2020 | ePaper

Hopeful Messi keen to end Argentina title drought

  • Print


AFP, Rio De Janeiro :
With Neymar sidelined by an ankle injury, Lionel Messi heads into the Copa America this weekend as the competition's main attraction but one with a desperate need to end more than a decade of hurt with Argentina.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has one of the most impressive trophy hauls in football history but there is a glaring void when it comes to national team accolades.
Four Champions League crowns and 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona are not matched by Argentina success.
And the 31-year-old knows he's running out of time to rectify that anomaly.
"I want to end my career having won something with the national team, or at least try to do so as many times as possible," he told Fox Sports last week.
Four finals played with Argentina, four defeats, including the last two Copa finals on penalties against Chile.
But the most painful was the 2014 World Cup final to Germany at the iconic Maracana, where Messi will hope to return on July 7 for the Copa title decider.
That Germany defeat began a run of losing finals in three successive years and after the last of those, a bitterly disappointed Messi announced his international retirement. He and his team-mates came in for a torrent of abuse and criticism.
"People were attacking us from every side," he said.
His retirement lasted just six weeks, though, and it was his hat-trick in Argentina's final qualifier that secured a 3-1 win in Ecuador that sent the team to the World Cup in Russia last year.
But, as so many times before, Messi was unable to recapture his Barca form while on international duty and dejection followed as the albiceleste were sent home in the second round after a 4-3 defeat to eventual winners France. But while Messi then missed Argentina's next six matches - all friendlies - there was no talk of retirement this time.
His son Thiago "loves it when I play for the national team," Messi told Fox.
But the disappointments have kept piling up despite a 10th La Liga crown secured in May.
Messi had made no secret at the start of the season that winning the Champions League for the fifth time was his priority as he wanted to bring that "beautiful cup back to Camp Nou".
Things looked so good as Barca took a 3-0 advantage to Anfield for the semi-final second leg last month.
What happened next - an inspired Liverpool stormed to a 4-0 victory and 4-3 aggregate success - left as bitter a taste in Messi's mouth as had the Germany loss five years ago. "To lose a final of the World Cup is the most important of all, it is a big disappointment," he said in May.
But he admitted that the Liverpool loss felt a bit worse "because we were winning and we didn't expect them to come back".
Messi has long been talisman for club and country but he will be even more so in Brazil with a rejuvenated squad full of inexperienced campaigners.

More News For this Category

Real Madrid go four points clear after edging Getafe

Real Madrid go four points clear after edging Getafe

AFP, MadridĀ  :Real Madrid took a big step towards winning La Liga on Thursday by battling past Getafe to move four points clear of Barcelona, with five games left.Sergio

Leroy Sane completes Bayern move from Manchester City

Leroy Sane completes Bayern move from Manchester City

BBC Online :Leroy Sane says Bayern Munich is a "great club with big goals" after he signed a five-year contract at the Bundesliga side.The Germany winger, 24, has joined

Man City lay down Liverpool marker with 4-0 rout

Man City lay down Liverpool marker with 4-0 rout

AFP, Manchester :Jurgen Klopp admitted Manchester City are the one side capable of "smashing" his newly-crowned Premier League winners after Liverpool's first match since becoming English champions ended in

West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko (right) scores the third goal against Chelsea during their EPL match on Wednesday.

West Ham United's Andriy Yarmolenko (right) scores the third goal against Chelsea during their EPL match on Wednesday.

.

Sanchez shines in Inter rout as Milan salvage draw at SPAL

Sanchez shines in Inter rout as Milan salvage draw at SPAL

AFP, Milan :Alexis Sanchez scored a penalty and set up two goals as Inter Milan thrashed relegation candidates Brescia 6-0 in Serie A on Wednesday, while city rivals AC

Former FIFA finance director and secretary general Markus Kattner given 10-year ban

Former FIFA finance director and secretary general Markus Kattner given 10-year ban

AFP, Lausanne :Markus Kattner, FIFA's finance director under Sepp Blatter who also served as acting secretary general, has been banned from all football-related activity for 10 years and fined one

Juventus keep Lazio at bay with Genoa stroll

Juventus keep Lazio at bay with Genoa stroll

AFP, RomeĀ  :Juventus maintained their four-point lead at the top of Serie A on Tuesday after strolling to a 3-1 win at Genoa that keeps chasers Lazio at bay despite

Messi scores 700th goal but Atletico draw hurts Barca's title hopes

Messi scores 700th goal but Atletico draw hurts Barca's title hopes

Lionel Messi scored his 700th career goal but Barcelona suffered another blow to their La Liga title hopes after a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.Messi chipped in a

PSG eye fixed firmly on biggest prize

PSG eye fixed firmly on biggest prize

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are still optimistic they can win the Champions League for the first time when the tournament is played in Lisbon in August, even if the coronavirus crisis

BFF takes proactive approach for women's football

The Bangladesh Football (BFF) has taken a proactive approach to continue for the development of women's football in Bangladesh, according to an article received from Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) on