Lionel Messi had no time for a bland, optimistic messages after the Argentine national team’s painful defeat against historic rival Brazil 3-0 yesterday in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Speaking to press after the result that puts La Selección further away from the 2018 World Cup, Messi assured that the team has “hit rock bottom and what’s worse, we don’t know what we’re doing on the pitch.”
“We have to get out of this shit — we have to win, no matter how,” he said. “We have to change our mindset and think positive to get out this shitty situation, because when you’re not OK in the head the legs don’t respond. We have to win because there are many games left, there are many points at stake and we’re all very close in the league board.”
“We are not thinking about not qualifying to the World Cup,” added Messi, who didn’t display the best version of himself yesterday. La Pulga got caught in the team’s general apathy and couldn’t display any of the skills that make him the best footballer in the world.
Truth is that, objectively, the situation is still not that pressing. Argentina is currently sixth out of ten teams in the South American qualifiers, a spot away from making it to the playoffs against the country that wins the Oceanic qualifiers. There are still seven games left, enough to turn things around.
In this line, Messi went on to say that “we have no margin for error and we can’t lose any more points. But the silver lining is that at least we depend on ourselves. We can’t let any more points go regardless of the rival.”
But what’s most concerning is not the amount of points in dispute, but the poor level the national team has displayed ever since losing the Copa América final against Chile in June. Since coach Edgardo Bauza took over, Argentina won one game, tied two and lost two more, dropping from third to sixth place in the qualifiers.
The players also seem to be affected by the extensive criticism it has received from both the fans and the media, especially in the months following the Copa América. That’s why Messi asked the fans who will attend the next game against Colombia to “show a bit more patience,” evoking how quick the Argentine audience was to show its disapproval of the Selección’s game during the last home game against Paraguay. “I didn’t get to be there [he was recovering from an injury] but I watched it on TV and I could tell fans would insult even after the smallest mistake. That doesn’t help.”
“We have to be more united than ever because we all want to make it to the World Cup … But when you get into this negative dynamic and the surrounding doesn’t help, you can tell, you can feel it,” concluded Messi.