Lionel Messi is one of the best soccer players in the world. He has played for Argentina’s national team and the Spanish club Barcelona, where he has been a key player on both teams.
Messi Argentina, captain of the World Cup squad this year, led his team out onto the pitch against Poland in their final group match with everything to play for: win and they would progress to the knockout stages; lose, and they were likely going home.
Lionel Messi’s missed penalty in Argentina’s Group C match against Poland may have been costly. Still, the South American champions secured a 2-0 victory and advanced to face Australia in the Round of 16.
Despite admitting that he was “annoyed” by his missed penalty, Messi hailed his teammates for their positive response, which helped Argentina win the group.
Argentina lost their opening World Cup match to Saudi Arabia. However, they managed to win their group by defeating Poland 2-0 thanks to goals from Alexis MacAllister and Julian Alvarez in the second half.
Argentina’s chances were dashed when Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny turned away Lionel Messi’s 39th-minute penalty after Argentina had taken the lead and needed to win to guarantee qualification.
However, Argentina was set on the winning track by Mac Allister’s goal in the 46th minute, and Messi claimed he never had any doubts about the outcome despite Argentina’s missed penalty.
“I’m annoyed that I have missed the penalty,” Messi said. “But the team came out stronger after my mistake.
“The team was convinced that we were going to win, it was a matter of scoring the first goal. After that, the rest of game was played the way we wanted.”
Argentina’s Mac Allister, Alvarez, and Enzo Fernandez all made significant contributions and reduced the pressure on Messi to perform.
“We said it from the beginning, the player who has to come in knows what he has to do and is always fully prepared,” Messi said. “The strength of this group is the unity and everyone answered the call.”
Argentina will now play Australia on Saturday in Al Rayyan, and Coach Lionel Scaloni has expressed his confusion at the short time between games.
“It’s now nearly 2 a.m. on Thursday morning and we have to play again on Saturday.” Scaloni said. “I don’t understand this, but we just have to prepare as best we cab.”
Lionel Messi’s comments after Argentina’s 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia are a sobering reminder that the team cannot take Australia lightly in their final group match. Though they were heavy favorites against Australia and still expected to win comfortably, this loss should remind Argentina not to become complacent.
If they want any chance of making it past the quarter-final stage, they will need to be sharp and focused every time they take the field. One mistake could prove costly against stronger opponents like the United States or the Netherlands.
“We’ve learned a lot after we started [the World Cup] with a defeat,” Messi said. “It was a bad start, everyone was disappointed and worried.
“Let’s go calmly, we need to take that approach. Hopefully we can continue playing like we did today and show our best.”