A steady presence of this tournament has been Lionel Messi given he is playing his fifth one, which means a lot of things happened during that time. Check out how each World Cup has been for the captain of Argentina.
This tournament is the most prestigious in the sport, so everyone wants to play it. Being at the World Cup is an honor for those who can do it, and Lionel Messi has been a part of the last five editions. Let’s take a look at how each of them have gone for the Argentine star so far.
Messi is one of those great players who has yet to win a title in this competition, although he has been close. One thing that stands out about his career with the national team is that he has performed better in recent years than in his early days.
The PSG star played in one final without much luck. He had dramatic endings in most of them and even stayed on the bench in one of them. Argentina had him both as the best in the world in their youth and as their captain in the last three. Here’s how he fared in his previous appearances at this level.
How did Lionel Messi play in each World Cup?
The jury is still out there for Argentina in Qatar. They struggled in the first round starting with a 2-1 loss vs Saudi Arabia, but they found their rhythm right on time to qualify in the first place. Then their rival was Australia in the round of 16, where the Argentinians got a 2-1 win. In the quarterfinals they will be clashing with the Netherlands, so it should be a tougher challenge.
Messi has been playing at a very high level. He is the top scorer of the team with three goals. One came facing Saudi Arabia, he then scored a key goal against Mexico, and he opened the scoreboard vs Australia. Even though he missed a penalty kick on Matchday 3 against Poland, he found a way to be helpful for them.
This is probably one he wants to forget given they were never truly competitive. Argentina were set to start in a supposedly easy match vs Iceland, a country that was participating in this type of tournament for the first time. The path began well with Sergio Agüero scoring the 1-0, but everything went downhill.
That game ended in a 1-1 tie, although there was also an unfortunate twist. The Argentinians had a penalty kick to go ahead with not much time to go, though it was Messi himself who failed to score. They would go on to lose on Matchday 2 against Croatia in a terrible way, knowing they had to beat Nigeria to avoid being eliminated.
It was a close game that Leo opened via all his magic scoring a great one with his right foot. The Africans tied, but the Argentinians rescued a victory with a late goal. Having finished in the second place of the group, they were matched up with France. Their hopes ended in a 4-3 defeat that wasn’t as even as the result may tell. Messi finished with one goal in four games.
Messi had a career full of achievements, but in his last years playing for Barcelona he had multiple embarrassing losses in the Champions League. Though none of them was as heart-breaking as this one. This was the time that he got the closest to winning a World Cup. The first round had him shining bright for his team.
He scored a goal in a tight 2-1 win over Bosnia, he had a great goal that gave them a narrow 1-0 victory vs Iran, and then he put his name on the stat sheet twice against Nigeria to close out in the first place with a 3-2. In the round of 16 he made the play that ended in a score by Angel Di Maria to defeat Switzerland in overtime.
Although the remainder of the tournament was a completely different story. Belgium were with a goal from Gonzalo Higuaín, and the semifinals were also a nerve-wrecking task. They advanced in the penalty shootout with him scoring in that series. In the final against Germany, he had a chance in overtime that couldn’t go in, and the Germans scored a late winner that sealed a gutting 1-0 loss. He was then selected the best player of Brazil 2014.
South Africa 2010
For the Argentinians this was thought to be a special FIFA World Cup. Not only they had Messi as the best player in the world in that time, but the head coach back then was Diego Armando Maradona. Those are the most revered icons in their soccer/sports history, so all was set up to be a perfect combo. He was also carrying the number 10 for the first time in this tournament.
Unfortunately the development didn’t go as planned. Messi played very well in their opener vs Nigeria, although the goalkeeper had the day of his life in a 1-0 win for Argentina. They beat South Korea 4-1 and got a 2-0 over Greece to close out with nine points as the leaders. He was the captain against the Greeks since former Barcelona player Javier Mascherano didn’t play.
The Argentinians defeated Mexico 3-1 in the round of 16, before it was time for Germany yet again. That quarterfinals game was over early. It was a 4-0 beatdown with the Germans being all over the place. So it ended up being a very sour World Cup for him. He left South Africa without any goals in five matchups, which prevented him to join Cristiano Ronaldo as the only one to score in five different editions.
This one can be separated since he wasn’t an established piece in the team coached by Jose Pekerman due to his age. Messi was 18 years old when the tournament began, but he was still a player that was about to take soccer by storm. In the 2-1 triumph vs Ivory Coast he didn’t even play, and the team also had a high level of football in a 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro.
That game went to the record books given he scored his first goal at a World Cup after entering with 15 minutes to go. On June 16 he had the sixth one for the Argentinians wearing the jersey n° 19. He started on Matchday 3 vs the Netherlands with both teams already qualified in what was a 0-0 with nothing to highlight.
In the round of 16 clash with Mexico he got in as a replacement in the 85th minute. They won 2-1 in overtime, but he didn’t impact the match. The quarterfinals defeat in the penalty shootout vs the hosts left an iconic image of him sitting alone on the bench. Argentina was taken out by Germany with Messi off the field.