One of the Greatest of All Times (G.O.A.T), Lionel Messi celebrates his 34th birthday today (24th June). The legendary football player is adored by the fans without any club barrier across the globe. His techniques and skills are unparalleled to anyone. His down-to-earth and humble nature has attracted everyone to idolize and follow his footprints. Since the last two seasons, the Argentine international has carried his club, Barcelona FC, singlehandedly. He recently broke the record by scoring the 474th goal in Barcelona colors. He is the all-time highest goal scorer in La Liga history.
Despite being termed as an Alien or inhumane or superman, Lionel Messi has had bad days on the pitch. The bad days and bad performances have come when the team needed his brilliance the most. Does that mean he is the worst big-game player? Or is it just the emotion amongst the fans? Let us see below:
(Disclaimer: When we say it is the bad performance, that does not refer to the player’s dismal performance. That just refers to the sub-par performances in the game compared to usual beast mode. The standards he has set are exceptional)
Is Lionel Messi the worst big game player?
Often known for his brilliance, Argentine international carries a huge fan base that hypes the player up before a big game. However, the fans go silent once the game is over. And you know the reason! Let me walk you through the stats.
In the 2014 Quarterfinals, Barcelona faced Spanish rivals, Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou in the first leg. Though Barcelona equalized through Neymar in the 71st minute, they had given away the most crucial away goal for Rojiblancos. However, the team was in control as they had a belief that their most talismanic player, Lionel Messi, can turn around the game. However, Atletico Madrid scored as early as in the 5th minute changing the scoreline to 1-0 (2-1) on aggregate. Lionel Messi was caged by three-four Atletico Madrid men whenever he had possession of the ball. Atletico advanced after successfully “parking the bus” for the rest of the game at Estadio Vicente Calderón.
FIFA 2014 World Cup: Messi goes missing in the knockouts!
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Argentina were up against Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia Herzegovina in the group stage. The talismanic Argentine started his tournament on a great note scoring four goals in four games. However, the trouble started when Switzerland tied him throughout the 120 minutes. However, the player sneaked in a pass to Angel di Maria that sent Argentina to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Argentina eked out the win with a solitary goal scored by Gonzalo Higuaín early on in the game. The player was not at his usual best in the semifinal as well. The semifinal ended in a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes and the game was decided through penalty kicks. Argentina came on top and reached the finals.
In a dingy affair against Germany, Argentina failed to keep going. Lionel Messi’s efforts went in vain but he got the chance to score the goal in additional extra time when he was one-on-one with Manuel Neuer. The miss cost Argentina the World Cup title and Lionel Messi a spot amongst the World Cup winners.
The penalty miss: COPA America agony for Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi failed to score in back-to-back COPA America finals for Argentina. The player had zero goals and zero assists to his name in both finals. Both finals were played against the same opposition, Chile. Both games ended in a 0-0 draw in the added extra time to go into penalties. The only difference was the conversion of penalties. Messi scored in the penalty shootout of 2015 whereas his miss in the 2016 finals set the prelude for the loss. After the game, the player had announced a retirement for which the whole world mourned.
The player dropped the chance to exact an act of revenge against Atletico Madrid in the UCL 2015/16 semifinals against Atletico Madrid. The team bottled the 2-1 lead in the second leg as the whole team found its shooting boots missing in the second leg. Throughout the 180+ minutes, Lionel Messi failed to score a goal for his club in the most crucial game of Barcelona’s season.
Two successive losses in UEFA CL knockouts: What more should Lionel Messi do to bring Champions League home?
One of the best comebacks in the history of UCL, Roma vs Barcelona, was the poorest performance by the Argentine and GOAT. His side not only bottled the 4-1 lead in the quarterfinals but he also missed an absolute sitter in the 86th minute of the game when Roma were leading due to the away goal rule. The dejected face at the end of the game summed up it all.
“Corner taken quickly”-Three words that a Barcelona fan would never like to hear. This game showed the importance of a fanbase in football. Liverpool were trailing by three goals as Barcelona scored three in the first leg. Messi had scored a spectacular free-kick at Camp Nou which had given them the three-goal cushion. However, in the second leg, Jurgen Klopp’s tactics held Lionel Messi from scoring. Though he created chances, the team failed to score. Liverpool’s fourth goal was a result of sheer brilliance. In the final moments of the game, Liverpool were able to hold their nerves to seal the game.
The La Liga title race: Barcelona drops it!!!
In the most important game of the 2020/21 season against Atletico Madrid, Lionel Messi failed to make an impact on the game as it ended as a stalemate. Barcelona had relatively easier fixtures in the final three games of the season with Catalans facing Levante, Celta Vigo and Eibar. However, Barcelona could garner only seven points in the last three games. Though Lionel Messi scored a goal in the 2-1 loss against Celta Vigo, he failed to stop Barcelona from a defeat. Atletico Madrid took away the title on the final day of the season.
However, in the initial days of his career, Lionel Messi had completely rattled the opposition with his dribbles. Lionel Messi was the main reason behind stopping Manchester United from winning the second UEFA Champions League in succession. He dominated the game and Red Devils were heartbroken. He repeated the same twice in the space of two years. Whenever Pep Guardiola loses a Champions League game, Messi trends on Twitter. This indicates his presence in the big game. But, considering the facts, what do you think? Is Lionel Messi one of the worst big-game players?
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Firstsportz or its other writers)