Lionel Messi international future once again was the discussion among fans and pundits following Argentina’s 2-0 loss to Brazil in the Copa America semi-final clash between the two heavyweights of world football.
Brazil got the better of their archrivals in what was a feisty South American derby. Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino ensured the Selecao progressed to their first major final since 2007.
While Brazil will bask in the victory, Argentina are left to ponder once again after another disappointment in a major competition. La Albisceleste dominated possession and hit the woodwork twice through Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi.
But they couldn’t find a way past a strong Brazilian resilience. This defeat means their long wait for an international trophy for the first time since 1993 continues, while Lionel Messi’s international’s future was once again called into the questioning.
The Barcelona superstar briefly retired after Argentina lost in the finals of the 2016 Copa America final to Chile and there were fears he will take the same route this time around.
“If I can still help in any way, I will continue to do so. I feel really good in this group,” said the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“Something new is on the horizon,” he said, adding that he hoped the fans back home would recognise the side’s effort during the tournament. “I hope we are respected and not criticised. They should let the team be and let them grow.
“[The officials] were tired of making bulls— calls at this Copa and they didn’t go to VAR. It was unbelievable,” Messi said after the loss.
“It was like that all match. It was bulls— that they were doing it all match. There is no excuse — it must be looked into. Hopefully, CONMEBOL does something about these kinds of referees.
“Because we did everything to try and advance but [the officials] stacked the deck against us. I don’t believe they will do anything because Brazil controls everything, so it is very complicated. But I don’t think we should feel bad for anything. It didn’t happen and we had bad luck.”
“I’m upset because we had a great match, a great effort,” Messi said. “It wasn’t for it to finish in that way, because they weren’t the better team.”
Argentina manager Luca Scaloni also echoed the voice of his captain but also praised the attitude of his players. “I didn’t like the referee — I don’t usually make those comments,” Scaloni said. “I don’t think he was qualified for a match of this level.”
Messi and Argentina will have the chance to end their long wait for a major trophy when they co-host the 2020 edition of the Copa America with Colombia.