Lionel Messi Set to Retire from International Football
Lionel Messi is set to walk away from international football after Argentina crashed out of the World Cup at the last-16 stage. Argentina, finalists in 2014, went down 4-3 in Kazan, ending their hopes of becoming world champions for the first time since 1986.
It is, in turn, likely to be the end of Messi’s career on the world stage – one which will end without a major championship to his name. As well as losing the World Cup final four years ago, Messi has tasted defeat in the final of the Copa America on three occasions. He previously announced his retirement from international football in 2016, only to reverse his decision ahead of qualifying for this year’s World Cup.
But on Saturday, he was unable to inspire his team past France, who now place themselves as one of the favourites to win the whole competition following the victory. Marcos Rojo’s clumsy challenge on Kylian Mbappe gave France a penalty after just 12 minutes of the match. Antoine Griezmann stepped up and sent goalkeeper Franco Armani, making only his second international appearance, the wrong way.
But Argentina were not down and out. Angel Di Maria’s screamer levelled the scores just before the break, before Gabriel Mercado got a fortunate touch on a shot from Messi to steer the ball into the corner. However, France hit back almost immediately, with Benjamin Pavard’s stunning volley into the top corner. Mbappe followed with a couple of deserved goals of his own to put the game beyond Argentina – despite Sergio Aguero’s stoppage time header.
Argentina were perhaps fortunate to even get this far in the World Cup.
Jorge Sampaoli’s men only qualified for the knockout stages of the competition after Rojo struck a late winner against Nigeria in their final group game. A 3-0 thrashing by Croatia left Argentina panicking about their progression hopes after an opening day draw with Iceland. Sampaoli’s future in charge of the team is now also in doubt following reports of rifts and disagreements in the camp throughout the World Cup.