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Argentina’s Failure to Help Lionel Messi, In One Stat

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Here’s why Messi didn’t score much in the World Cup

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Argentina crashed out of the World Cup after a 4-3 defeat at the hands of France. Lionel Messi gave two assists, but it was not enough as Argentina’s defense crumbled in the second half.

Messi finished the competition with only one goal, a relatively low return for his standards. And one big reason why is he had almost no service:

Messi only received two passes inside the penalty area during the entire tournament, once against Croatia and once against Iceland. The pass against Croatia was one where he received the ball and it was blocked immediately as he tried to redirect it onto the goal.

Messi did drop deep, but it was because Argentina failed to move the ball from the middle of the park into the final third. Éver Banega helped in that regard as he started being picked in the last two matches, but it was not enough.

The Barcelona star could become a playmaker above all else in the last phase of his career, although we may need to adjust expectations. We may need to start seeing it as normal if Messi doesn’t score nearly as much if he plays more as a #10, and if his main function is assists and key passes.