Argentina fans make FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi a scapegoat for national team’s poor performances, according to 1986 World Cup-winner and former Real Madrid player and coach Jorge Valdano.
Lionel Messia s performances with Argentina have been under the scanner again following Argentina’s Copa America final defeat to Chile.
In the final, Messi was shadow of the player who took FC Barcelona to a treble last season. The Spanish side won all the trophies they participated in thanks to some magical performances by the Argentina captain.
After his performance in the final, Messi came under heavy criticism. Fans called for him to be dropped from the national side and the legendary Diego Maradona, among others, questioning if Messi was Swedish or Argentine.
Valdano jumps to Messi’s defence
Valdano was quoted saying by Mundo D that Messi was worshipped as well as made a scapegoat by the Argentina fans for the national team’s performances.
“I understand people need scapegoats, and they also need heroes. Messi carries the two roles on his shoulders,” he told Mundo D.
“When the team wins and he contributes to the success with his fantastic football, we go to the altar to worship him. When the team loses, we go to the same altar to sacrifice him.”
“In five of the six games he played at the Copa America in Chile, he was chosen as the best player.”
“When you have the pressure of a nation on your back, it’s difficult to enjoy it. Messi, in those moments, plays with 40 million people watching him.”
‘Messi faces similar pressure that resulted in Ronaldo having a fit before 1998 World Cup final’
The Former Real Madrid player, Valdano, thinks that the pressure on Lionel Messi is similar to what Brazil and Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo had to deal before the 1998 World Cup. The Brazil superstar infamously suffered a mysterious fit prior to the final defeat to France.
“I knew the Brazilian Ronaldo closely. He was fun, intelligent and with truly fascinating footballing conditions,” Valdano was quoted saying by Mundo D.
“When he got to the final of France ’98 he suffered an attack which still hasn’t been explained by science. It had to do with the pressure on his nervous system.” .
Does Valdano have a point?
In total, Messi has scored 46 goals in 103 appearance for Argentina, which does pale in comparison to his incredible goal scoring record with FC Barcelona.
However, Messi plays different roles for his club and national side. With Argentina, Messi does not really play as a goalscorer but more as a play maker. Whereas, with FC Barcelona, he is more of a play making forward causing damage in the final third.
The criticism leveled at Messi for his Copa America final performance, even if justified, comes with a complete ignorance for the performances of the likes of Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria. Both are fine attacking players and world class for their club sides, but were completely non-existent in the Copa America final.
When you are as great as Lionel Messi, then, I guess you must bear the brunt of expectations and it does seem that Jorge Valdano has a point when he says he is worshiped and made a scapegoat at the same time.