At 35, and in what would be his final World Cup, Lionel Messi will try to win the only major title missing from his list on Sunday (4pm) in the final against France. One last challenge for Argentina’s number 10, who has already failed at this stage of the competition in 2014 against Germany (0-1 ap).
If the PSG striker managed to win the Copa America in 2021 with the Albiceleste, he first experienced defeat three times in the final of this competition, which led to his retirement from international football for the first time in 2016. Back to Lionel Messi’s complicated history with the final in the Argentine shirt.
Copa America 2007: a difficult apprenticeship
In 2007, Lionel Messi was just 20 years old when he took part in his first international competition with Argentina as a starter. He is coming off a 2006 World Cup in which he played little and saw his teammates eliminated by Germany in the quarter-finals (1-1, 2-4 on the record).
In Venezuela, Argentina dominates the competition, easily winning in the quarter-finals against Peru (4-0) and in the semi-finals against Mexico (3-0), each time thanks to a Messi scorer. Favorites in the final against Brazil, the Albiceleste will however miss their meeting (0-3), just like their new star, who will console himself with the title of the tournament’s best player.
2008 Olympics: Argentina retain their title thanks to him
A year after his first failure in the Copa America final, Pulga takes part in the Olympic tournament as an under-23 player (he is 21). After scoring two goals in the competition, Messi and his teammates took revenge on Brazil in the semi-finals, beating the Seleçao 3-0.
Lionel Messi surrounded by several Nigerian players in the final of the 2008 Olympic Games. (Rondeau/L’Équipe)
In the final against Nigeria, the left-hander manages to prove decisive by offering the only goal of the game to Angel Di Maria. He thus made his second decisive pass of the tournament and used the opportunity to once again achieve the title of best player. At the same time, it allows Argentina to retain its Olympic title acquired in 2004.
World Cup 2014: the biggest failure
After two eliminations in the quarter-finals, first of the 2010 World Cup (0-4 against Germany), then of the 2011 Copa America at home, Lionel Messi’s Argentina return to the front of the stage in 2014 at the World Cup in Brazil. . La Pulga made four fantastic debuts, each time earning the man of the match title. He scored four goals in the group stage and provided an assist on Angel Di Maria’s winning goal against Switzerland in the round of 16 (1-0 ap).
After a whirlwind debut, Messi gradually disappeared during the competition until the final against Germany, the executioner of the Albiceleste in 2006 and 2010. In the most important match of his career so far, Lionel Messi again struggles to be decisive, missing several important situations . He will finally see Mario Götze score the winning goal for the Mannschaft in the 113th and leave again with the title of best player in the competition as a consolation prize.
Copa America 2015 and 2016: too many defeats
A year after the disappointment of 2014, Lionel Messi returns to the Copa America final with Argentina. Not particularly decisive throughout the competition with only one goal scored from the penalty spot, the FC Barcelona star was at the time still the only one in his team to convert his shot on goal against Chile (0-0 loss, 1-4 loss) ) , after a final that he once again failed to weigh.
Messi will try his luck again the following year for the centenary of the Copa America with the same result: a defeat in the final against Chile on penalties (0-0, 2-4 on penalties). During this competition, he impressed with a hat-trick against Canada in the group stage. Despite a goal and two assists in the quarter-final against Venezuela (4-1) and in the semi-final against the USA (4-0), the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner misses the final.
Lionel Messi will again miss his final in 2016 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Copa America. (B. Penner/Sports Press)
Even worse, he misses his shot on goal against Chile’s Alexis Sanchez, resulting in Argentina’s third defeat in three years in the final of a major competition. Too many defeats for Lionel Messi, who to everyone’s surprise announces his international retirement at the end of the competition, only 29 years old. A decision made on the spot, to which the Pulga returns a few weeks later.
Copa America 2021: the inauguration
After two new failures, first in the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup against France (3-4), then in the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America against Brazil (0-2), the year 2021 is finally the right one. one for Lionel Messi. The Argentine flies over the Copa America with three goals and two assists in the group stage as well as a goal and two new bids in the quarter-finals against Ecuador (3-0).
If he still can’t find the solution in the final against Neymar’s Brazil, Messi will win his first continental trophy with Argentina (1-0) thanks to a goal from Di Maria at 34, who also finished the best player. , top scorer (4 goals) and best passer (5 assists) in the competition.
A feat that the captain of the Albiceleste remains capable of achieving during the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, aged 35. In the event of a victory on Sunday against the Blues, he could thus achieve in two years what he fought for during his last seventeen years in the selection.
In six finals since 2007 in all competitions, Argentina have scored just 2 goals, each time scored by Angel Di Maria.