La Serena (Chile): After a terrific season with Spanish football club Barcelona, Lionel Messi once again faces a lot of pressure to be the key player for Argentina in the Copa America.
There are five main challenges which forward Messi will have to overcome if he is to help take his team to victory in Chile. The first challenge is that he has to win the love and the support of the people at Copa America, reports Xinhua.
Even though he was Argentina’s top goal-scorer and awarded the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament in the 2014 World Cup, people still remember how he messed up his last touch of the competition, a free-kick lashed high over the German crossbar in the final.
Also, although he turned down the chance to represent Spain’s national team and has always jumped at the chance to play any match for his country of birth, people still remember that one time when he didn’t appear to be singing Argentina’s national anthem.
Even though he has dual nationality (Spain and Argentina), people remember that he has spent more than the last 10 years living and playing in the European country instead of his country of birth. However, they do credit him for not losing his Argentinian accent and way of speaking. Therefore in the eyes of the public, Messi still has a long way to go.
Messi’s second challenge is that he still has to gain new Argentina coach Gerardo Martino’s trust. The pair previously worked together in Barcelona but as Martino himself has frequently admitted, things didn’t go well for the Spanish club when he was in-charge.
However, Martino seems to have learned from his previous mistakes and has therefore changed Messi’s position to more of a right-winger like the player’s current position with the Spanish side under Luis Enrique. This position change could be key to Argentina winning the Copa America.
Martino and Messi have a lot in common; such as they were both born in the same city (Rosario) and both started their football careers playing for Newell’s Old Boys. These mutual interests could help them win the title that both men are missing.
Another challenge that Messi is said to face is history. The striker has played in two Copa Americas; one in 2007 under Alfio Basile and the other in 2011 under Checho Batista. In both, Argentina failed to win; losing in the 2007 final to Brazil and going out in the quarterfinals against Uruguay in 2011. However, it may be third time lucky.
The fourth challenge Messi faces is maturity. Barcelona’s No.10 arrives here with impressive maturity. At 27, which Copa America state could be the best age for a footballer, Messi has played professionally for over 10 years. He also scored his first goal over 10 years ago.
With several titles and awards under his belt, such as winning the Champions League with Barcelona, FIFA World Player of the Year 2009, Ballon d’Or 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Messi has seen his fair share of success. However, the forward has also seen his share of frustration, including losing three World Cups.
Messi comes here at a high point in his career and it is thought he has learned how to better control his emotions. Unlike the World Cup 2014, Messi is coming into Copa America in top form.
However, this does not necessarily mean that he will have a brilliant tournament. His level could be the final challenge that he will have to overcome to stand Argentina in good stead to win the tournament.
Messi arrived at the 2010 World Cup after knocking Portuguese Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo off the top spot in Europe but Argentina still failed to win the title just like in 2011 when the Copa America was held on his home turf.
However, Chile 2015 could be the moment Messi finally gets to lift the Copa America trophy alongside his Argentina teammates if he can overcome all the challenges laid down before him.