Even Cristiano Ronaldo needed his Portuguese colleagues to stand up and be counted when he was hampered by injury and subsequently withdrawn at the summer’s European Championship final.
Lionel Messi though, haven’t be afforded such luxury. Time and time again, the Argentinan captain hasn’t got the best of support from his colleagues in the national team.
Argentina lost at home to Paraguay on Wednesday. You guessed right, Messi wasn’t involved. When Lionel Messi has played for Argentina in FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, they won all three games. But without Messi: just seven measly points from of a possible 21.
Messi’s teammates are his good friends, but they’ve let him down. They are talented players who do well – individually – for their club sides, but have caused a lot of frustration when they wear the Argentine colours.
Gonzalo Higuain is the best example. He has proven himself as a top goalscorer at Real Madrid, Napoli and more recently, Juventus. He has even equalled Diego Maradona’s Argentina tally. And yet something is up whenever the match becomes a final.
Sergio Aguero has scored over 300 goals in his career. He led the line at Atletico with distinction and many regard him as the best striker in England since his arrival. His goals have been critical to Guardiola’s brilliant start to life at Manchester City but when was the last time he had a memorable performance for Argentina?
Angel Di Maria (arguably) singlehandedly turned things around for Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Lisbon. He was a critical cog in Ancelotti’s team that season. He is an excellent winger at PSG and can pick a pass through a needle, but with Argentina he is unable to complete a play or create a chance.
Javier Mascherano has not been totally dire for Argentina but he puts in a good performance for every bad one. The high levels he has consistently reached at Barcelona don’t show when he’s with Argentina.
These are the faces of a generation that made it to three consecutive finals and won none of them. There’s so much Lionel Messi can do on his own.
It is time to switch the supporting cast. It is time to mix it up and try something new. Lionel Messi needs a strong supporting cast if Argentina are ever going to win anything in his time.