His dream of taking Argentina to a FIFA World Cup trophy came all undone on Saturday when Lionel Messi-led Argentina lost 3-4 to an extremely determined France. While the performance from the South American team was a marked improvement from their showings in the group stages, it was not enough and even Messi could not conjure any magic to help his side.
At 31, many are saying this was the final World Cup outing for Messi. And while he himself has not commented on whether he will make it to Qatar in 2022, the dream of lifting the cup in Russia crashed against what was an extremely powerful performance from Les Bleus. In fact, the French were the first to open the scoring when Antoine Griezmann struck a penalty shot with skilled ease. Argentina levelled just before the half-time bell courtesy Angel di Maria and then even managed to take the lead in the second half. The French return fire though was just too good and with three goals from the side by the 68th minute, the writing was on the wall.
Argentina did manage to pull one back and threatened to take the match into penalties but it was not to be in the end. And in all of this, Messi had some moments of partial brilliance but the finishing left much to be desired from. As the final whistle rang, a clearly emotional superstar stared into oblivion - appearing to fight back tears.
Messi's fans have always stood by the star and have previously said the entire team cannot focus on just one man to save every match. Against the French, Argentina may have performed as a unit but the fact that Messi failed to score will hurt somewhere. That it could also have been his final World Cup match would be heart-breaking for supporters. Many took to Twitter to urge Messi to continue playing till the next World Cup. For now, Qatar is just too far from dreams that lay shattered in Russia.