The eyes of the world were on Leo Messi as he attempted to bring Argentina its first major tournament trophy since 1993 in the Copa America Centenario Final against Chile on Sunday. What they saw, however, was a collapse of historic proportions from the Argentina talisman, one that could have been his last ever appearance for his national team if his post-match comments are to be believed.
Leo Messi Messes Up
Betting odds favored Argentina heading into the Copa America Final, with Leo Messi and company at roughly ½ odds to lift the trophy heading into the match. They had the better of the chances early on, including a one on one chance for striker Gonzalo Higuain against Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo. Bravo didn’t manage to get anything on the ball, but Higuain missed the net, a shock coming from a player who scored more goals in Italy’s Serie A this season than any player ever.
After that, a couple of red cards came out. With a player on each team sent off, the game was ten versus ten for the remainder, but neither team could take advantage of the extra space on the field to deliver the opening goal. Eventually extra time came, with penalties coming after another scoreless 30 minutes. Argentina started the penalty shootout off strong, with Sergio Romero saving Chile’s first penalty kick. Leo Messi stepped up to the penalty spot first for Argentina, with a chance to give them the lead in the shootout. That is when things went off the rails.
If betting sites offered odds on whether or not Leo Messi would miss penalty kicks, they would go broke, because it simply does not happen very often. In fact, Messi had never missed in a penalty shootout for Argentina heading into this Copa America Final. But when he stepped up and blasted a ball high over the frame of the goal, giving Chile new life in the shootout, it was clear that this was not Argentina’s night.
The last kick of a ball for his country. Messi quits national team. https://t.co/6Ofa3oZshU
— Sporting Index (@sportingindex) June 27, 2016
Leo Messi Quits National Team
After Argentina lost the penalty shootout to Chile, handing Chile the Copa America crown for the second straight year, the shocks kept on coming for Leo Messi. In an interview after the game, Messi revealed that this was his last night playing for the Argentina national team, citing that international competition simply doesn’t feel like it is for him anymore after what has happened over the last few years.
One would have thought that he was talking about the three straight losses in major tournament finals for Argentina, but it was later revealed that there was more to it than that. Several other players, including stars Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, and the aforementioned Higuain have also stated their desire to never wear the Argentina shirt again, citing issues with the Argentinean Football Association, who nearly prevented the team from showing up to this tournament after issues with the Argentinean government during the federation’s presidential selection process.
No matter how you slice it, it was a disastrous night for both Leo Messi and Argentina, one that will not soon be forgotten.
— Betadvisor (@BetAdvisor) June 27, 2016
By Jason Sanin