The final whistle was blown, but “the football god” Lionel Messi (31·Argentina) remained on the ground for a long time with his hands on his hip. His face with a brown beard hardened. He frowned a little as if he was hit with an all too familiar feeling of being eliminated from the World Cup. Messi failed to score a goal and was not able to prevent Argentina’s loss by 4-3 in the round of 16 with France on Sunday.
“Saturday will likely mark the end of an era of Messi (FC Barcelona) and Ronaldo (Real Madrid), the Spain Primera Division rivals who competed for the title of the best football player in the world,” reported AP. “Both men have failed to replicate their club success for their countries.”
A World Cup title was unreachable for Messi and Ronaldo. Messi hasn’t won a senior title with his nation, losing finals at the 2014 World Cup, and the 2007, 2015 and 2016 Copa Americas. He announced retirement after losing in the 2016 Copa America final, but lured back to the field by the president and his fans. He aimed for a World Cup title once again in the 2018 Russia World Cup, but never got beyond the round of 16. Ronaldo lost a World Cup semifinal in the 2006 Germany World Cup but didn’t get past the second round again in three World Cups.
Some say it is time to say good bye for the two players who won no title in Russia, which could potentially be their last World Cup appearance. But their teammates want them to remain in the team. Messi hasn’t talked about his retirement from the national team after losing to France. “I hope that Messi has the desire to remain with the national team,” said Javier Mascherano. “He should keep playing football because the day that when Messi decides not to play, we are all going to find out what a great player he really is.”
Yun-Cheol Jeong firstname.lastname@example.org