Lionel Messi is looking stressed and unhappy at the World Cup and that’s a real worry for Argentina, according to former defender Pablo Zabaleta.
The Barcelona star has been unable to shine in Russia so far but will be hoping to put that right on Tuesday when Argentina face Nigeria in a must-win clash.
Zabaleta says he feels sorry for Messi and feels that too much is expected from the 31-year-old, in a column written for BBC Sport.
“The happiest I saw Lionel Messi when I played alongside him for Argentina was in 2012 - he scored a hat-trick against Brazil in New York, and he played the whole game with freedom and a smile on his face.
“His body language was completely the opposite before the Croatia game on Thursday. To see Leo looking so stressed and unhappy at this World Cup was a real worry.
“He is my friend as well as my former team-mate and I felt really sorry for him. It is very unusual to see him like that, but it was a sign of what was going on in his head.
“At times like this, there is a huge pressure on him because people expect too much, and for him to do everything for the national team.”
Source | BBC Sport
Messi looked super stressed ahead of the defeat to Croatia but he has looked far more relaxed in training this week and has been spotted smiling and joking with team-mates.
Nigeria’s win over Iceland means Argentina have been given a second chance in the tournament but they’ll need a big improvement if they are to make it through.