Thursday, July 24, 2014
Loading...





Messi's World Cup ends on a bitter note

Despite being voted best player, Messi's World Cup ends on a bitter note

Posted on July 13, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on July 13, 2014 at 7:17 p.m.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Lionel Messi’s final act in the 2014 World Cup was lifting a free kick high over the bar, wasting Argentina’s last chance to equalize in the final against Germany.

It was far from a fitting finish for the four-time world player of the year.

This was supposed to be Messi’s World Cup, just like the 1986 tournament belonged to another Argentine great, Diego Maradona.

But after carrying his team through the group stage in Brazil with four goals, Messi seemed to run out of steam.

He created chances in the final Sunday but, like the rest of the team, lacked the finishing touch to turn the game for Argentina.

“I’m hurt for losing the way we did. We were close to penalties,” Messi said. “I think we deserved a little better, we had chances.”

He was a picture of disappointment as he collected the trophy for the tournament’s best player, and then stood in silence at the entrance to the player’s tunnel, watching the Germans receive the trophy.

“At this moment, I don’t care at all about that prize, only lifting the trophy matters,” Messi said.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he thought Messi deserved the best player award, “because he played an extraordinary role. He was the fundamental factor in the team.”

Messi has won everything there is to win with club team Barcelona, but many critics say he needs a World Cup title to be considered among football’s all-time greats.

“He’s been there for quite a while already, in the pantheon of the greats,” Sabella said, when asked to compare Messi with players like Maradona and Brazil’s Pele.

Messi stood out in an otherwise mediocre Argentine team in the group stage, scoring against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran and twice against Nigeria.

The free kick he curled inside Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s left post was a masterpiece. Then, game by game, Messi’s influence started waning.

Against Switzerland he had little impact until extra time, when he drilled a hole in the Swiss defense and set up Angel Di Maria’s winning goal. In the next game, against Belgium, he started the movement that resulted in Gonzalo Higuain’s first-half winner and helped Argentina keep possession as the Belgians tried to level the score.

Man-marked by Nigel de Jong, Messi struggled to find space in the semifinal win over the Netherlands, and besides a few runs and deft passes into the area against Germany, he didn’t rise to the occasion.

His last chance came in the final seconds of extra time as he was given a free kick about 10 meters (yards) from the area. Messi wiped the sweat off his face, took aim and sent his final shot of the World Cup well over the target.




Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
 In this Thursday, July 17, 2014 photo construction workers build a commercial complex in Springfield, Ill. The state jobless rate has dropped for four straight months and is at its lowest point since October 2008. Illinois has lagged the country as a whole in its recovery from recession, and the state's unemployment rate has been among the worst in the country for months. Thursday's report provides signs that Illinois may be starting to catch up. Construction companies added 3,500 jobs in June, an increase of 1.8 percent. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Updated on July 20, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
 Germany's Toni Kroos (18) rises above Argentina's Lionel Messi (10) to head the ball during the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Updated on July 17, 2014 at 3:52 a.m.
Back to top ^