Often when looking at Lionel Messi we picture an idol who has the pleasure to enjoy life at Barcelona while also being arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport. We imagine that his pressures are unequal to ours simply because of his fame and financial gains. But, fans and pundits alike are unable to truly comprehend the pressures that Messi faces both at Barcelona and Argentina.
While the pressure at Barcelona is huge, Messi has the benefit of having several other talented players from all over the world alongside him. For Argentina, the pressure is a little different and harder to handle. If Argentina lose a major game, like they did at the previous World Cup and Copa America, the pressure lies on Messi’s shoulders. In fact, he retired from international football in 2016 for a couple of months because the pressure and criticism became so severe, something he seems to escape when playing for club.
When playing for his country though, Messi’s unparalleled pressure and criticism goes to a level difficult for any human being to withstand. Nothing can describe this scenario more than Argentina’s own manager Jorge Sampaoli stating, “Messi has a revolver put to his head called the World Cup and if he doesn’t’ win it, he’s shot and killed.” Even Argentina’s national team coach understands that the pressure Messi faces with his team is unreal.
For Messi though, international life continues even after a quick sabbatical due to the mounting pressure. For arguably the greatest player of all time, the pitch is his sanctuary and he is hoping to provide fellow Argentinians’ with a sense of accomplishment.
Throughout the qualifying campaign Messi proved that Argentina without him was not an unstoppable force, just a normal team. Even with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, and Paulo Dybala, Messi is the glue that holds the team together. And while that glue wasn’t sticking at first, it seems to be picking up now and for Messi, hopefully that means a World Cup victory.