Dan’s World Cup Diary for JustArsenal .- What’s going on with Messi?

Dan’s World Cup diary by Dan Smith

You don’t need to be an expert in body language to recognise when standing for his national anthem, Messi was feeling the weight of expectation on his shoulders. In fact between the players, manager and fans in the crowd I’m yet to see an Argentine crack a smile at this World Cup.

Even before kick off against Russia you sensed this is not a happy camp, maybe it how they qualified but it’s almost like they are crippled by a fear of failure. Messi’s demeanour suggest something isn’t quite right and the moment they do exit the competition don’t be surprised if you hear stories of preparation not being right, bored in their day time, cliques, etc you know the usual excuses you get from the big teams every 4 years.

Messi though is not new to this. Pressure to be the main man, media obsessed with him, defenders ganging up on him, he’s faced all of that for over a decade. While some like to suggest he’s never produced his club form at international level, he still was player of tournament in Brazil and as recently as Ecuador away (in the last qualifier) he got a hat trick to yet again get his country out of jail.

So you could argue that this is the few times we have seen him freeze, not embrace the pressure, showing his opponents they are getting under his skin. It be going too far to say his talents are waning as he’s just won a domestic double with Barcelona. The only conclusion is something is troubling the best player in the world. It echoes Wayne Rooney’s rant into a TV camera after a 0-0 draw with Algeria. That told us all was not well behind the scenes in South Africa and that may be the case with the South Americans.

When they fell behind vs Croatia, they had 30 mins to get a goal. They were chasing an equaliser with an attack of Messi, Dybala and Higuain, Aguero started the game. Those are names who week after week are trusted to score in big matches, have won titles in Spain and Italy who are paid thousands to take moments by the scruff of the neck. How many El Classicos has Messi produced in, how many last min goals in his career, how many time the heroes for the Catalans.

Yet yesterday he lost his composure , his temperament and his nerve. Normally I back him to redeem himself against Nigeria but something for once is not right with Messi.

Dan Smith


  1. Abu says:

    Look I’m not saying that Messi isn’t a world class player or the best player on the planet , it’s got nothing to do with it. But Argentina needs to have a “plan B”. I mean you got dybala higuain , di Maria , icardi , Aguero , pavon and salvio those all would be a central focus on any team on any given day , considering their quality. If it’s not working with Messi why not just start dybala instead of him. Whats wrong in benching Messi if can’t gell up with the team. There is another aspect which I would like to talk about. Why any world class player as mentioned before would like to play a second role to Messi . Just look at Neymar why did he left ? He just wanted to get out of the shadow. Maybe some of these players want that too. Maybe some of them are tried of hearing same things over and over again, Messi has the burden of expectations , his comparison with Maradona and competition with Ronaldo etc etc etc and many more. Look on screen any one would act humble and be like , “oh it’s an honour to play along side Messi , hes the best in the world blah blah” . But maybe in reality players like Aguero higuain di Maria want the spotlight. Even look at dybala he’s not starting because of him . Icardi left out of the world cup squad because he had issues with Messi in past. You just can see why the team isn’t gelling up. For instance look at teams who don’t have bigger names the underdogs , even they didn’t play so bad.
    I know I’m going to be criticised from a lot of Messi fans . I like him too but you can’t ignore the facts. Ronaldo is leading the same Portugal from the front who wasn’t even considered for playoffs before the Euros. I’m not a Messi hater anyways.

    1. Unai Emery says:

      I believe that Argentina were even more miserable without Messi during friendlies over the past few years

    2. Lupe says:

      It seems you haven’t seen argentina without messi, they are much worse. Their problem is they haven’t gotten a manager that can make they play as a team, they are still over reliant on messi. Watch portugal without ronaldo, you will see an organised team and thats why adding ronaldo elevates them to another level. They are a mess at the back, we all saw the mistakes they made, on top of that, they are still hoping on players like di maria and higuain who have failed them time and time again in the past.

  2. Arsene is Out says:

    Messi needs to play the Barca way, Sampaoli did not put the right players next to Messi.

    They had to play a 433 all the way with 3 forwards Messi on the right – Aguero/Higuain in the Middle and Dybala/Icardi on the left all drifting in.

    Benega, Mascherano, Parades/Pereyra in the middle. Two DMs protecting the Defense.

    Otamendi Fazio in the middle of the D.

    Romero or Rulli as Gk’s not fracking Willi Wonka!

    1. gotanidea says:

      Yes, apparently Messi got used to Barcelona’s strategies too much and he cannot adapt with different strategies

      Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Maradona have learned how to play in various setup by moving to different clubs. Messi has to do it as well, because his low work rate in World Cup would not help Argentina

      He worked harder to chase the opponents when he was younger at Barcelona, but his scoring and playmaking abilities made his coaches instruct him to conserve his energy. Barcelona has players that have the same concept as his and can press their opponents hard, unfortunately Messi does not have that in Argentina team

  3. A girl has no name says:

    “Something is troubling the best player in the world”. The last time I checked, CR7 is the current holder of that title and he sure doesn’t look troubled. Having said that, my country isn’t ready to leave Russia yet and will probably force Messi to retire a second time.

    1. Phelyx says:

      He met the best player of all time

    2. Godswill says:

      “Something is troubling the best player in the world” and therefore will be retired by Nigeria. The “real” best player is showing the world who he is despite media hatred.
      Modric wore No. 10 for Croatia and Argentina No. 10 was no where near him in performance.

  4. wenger says:

    Argentina lacks a leader thats all. Without Ronaldo, Portugal has Pepe, Moutinho. I believe behind the scene Argentina is a bit messed up, they just don’t have chemistry. Its not one competition, its been the whole Messi era.

    1. Fab says:

      We need that moment of “God save the King”. Messi still has a chance to silence you critics, I remember WC 2006, Zidane went back to France after his retirement, he started the competition slowly, France qualified for the knock up round as a runner-up with a maximum of 4points. From they went through to the final by beating Brazil (with Ronadinho, Kaka, Robinho…), they beat Spain of Mandieta, Raul, Fenando Hero’s, they beat Portugal with Luis Figo, Postiga and Luicosta. If not the Materazz head-bute, they could have won the WC with easily. And remember by then people were debating who is the best player between Zidane and Ronadinho, but Zizou shown Ronadinho what it made to be the G.O.A.T.

      Guys, Messi is from the other planets ( Wenger et al)

  5. ThirdManJW says:

    Watching Argentina really reminded of Arsenal under Wenger of late. No leadership, awful defending, poor in offence, top quality players looking bang average, no plan B, devoid of ideas. It was a painful watch!

  6. Godswill says:

    Messi to redeem himself with Nigeria? Wake up from your dream. He’s going to be retired by Nigeria.
    World’s best player performs at the highest stage. Then tell me who is that player and not media hype and biasness.

  7. ozila says:

    iwobi won yesterday and he is an arsenal player instead of you to support him to win against Argentina to qualify u are here leaking messi’s asss someone that doesn’t play for arsenal, I tot we suppose to be supporting arsenal players?

  8. DE DAMS says:

    messi is nothing, people respect him just because of the ballon daor, but i respect him of playing a clean foothball, but for this world cup messi is zero over zero, and i stand for it?

  9. Someone says:

    I don’t care about any of those but i hope Iwobi leaves Arsenal next season , he is not good at all and he has wasted his chances.

  10. ruelando says:

    Messi is the big star for his team and what is quite apparent is the entire team are fans, they expect Messi to take on the entire 11 opposition players and score the goals, not realising they have a job to do on the field of play.

    The coaches idea of changing the team consistently is not helping the players to build a proper foundation on the field, the more a group play together the better the understanding of each teammate.

    Now it is left to see if Nigeria can pull off an upset or if Argentina can scrape through, one thing for sure it will be entertaining because Argentina defence is weak and Nigeria cannot play park the Bus System so i am looking forward to the match.

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