Soccer. World Cup 2022: total leader, expressive, provocative, Lionel Messi has changed a lot

Argentina – France, Sunday (4 pm)

If he still causes the same shivers when he touches the ball, he seems to have transformed the one who has long been a towering genius of 1.69 m with shorter and shorter hair but still as quiet and introverted. The one who speaks only with his velvet feet.

Because of Qatar, Lionel Messi, sparkling, shows a character that we don’t know much about him. There is no filter when he explodes with joy, evidenced by his trance state when he unblocked in the 64th minute against Mexico, a terrible start to the World Cup.

Lodger was also angry at the arguments with Louis van Gaal in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands. A vengeful response to the declarations of the Dutch coach before the match – “Messi does not participate in the game when the ball is in the opponent’s possession”. – and the old passive between Van Gaal and Juan Román Riquelme. Which explains his celebration hands behind his ears, a tribute to the ex of Boca.

Lionel Messi lodger against Louis van Gaal in the quarter-finals. (Photo by AFP)

“What are you looking at, you fool?” »

Then there was a clash accompanied by a dark look at the striker of the Netherlands, Wout Weghorst: “What are you looking at, idiot?”, he told him when he appeared on the microphone of the Argentinian channel TyC Sports after the match.

We see a different Flea, sometimes vengeful to the referee?. “You can’t put a referee like that for the quarter-final of the World Cup,” he said of Spaniard Antonio Mateu Lahoz, against the current debate about a supposed favoritism of arbitration. to Argentina in this World Cup. But we also see him in front of the media, moved to see his family’s reaction to his goal against Australia (2-1).

Shared emotions and the punchline celebrated in his country, and which has contradicted a long closed personality since his professional debut in 2004. “Leo does not speak as much as he does now, confessed Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore in L’ Crew. He was introverted, shy, more so than now though the truth is he continues to be.


“Messi felt so tired, he exploded”

How to explain this more demonstrative version, also darker, of the PSG striker? For Angel Marcos, ex-Argentine international (7 caps, 1 goal), there was a trigger: a Copa America semi-final lost against Brazil in 2019 (2-0) with some disputed arbitration decisions. “It was a little robbery from the Brazilians that day. And Messi felt very tired, he exploded (Messi criticized the arbitration and the South American confederation, he was suspended for three months by Conmebol). It found favorable echo everywhere. That’s what he was accused of, which he didn’t do, or at least he didn’t show. And from there it started to change in the Argentine public”.

With success, because Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina won the Copa America 2021 and went 36 games without defeat before falling against Saudi Arabia at the start of the World Cup (2-1).

This anger that was released loud and clear actually brought him closer to his country. Because these outbursts, isn’t that what has characterized the fiery temperament of Albiceleste players for generations? These rants, aren’t all Argentinians waiting, while Messi’s shyness and politeness have long created a distance with them, that his lack of “Argentinian” discredits him.

In this World Cup, Messi appears as a captain who flexes his muscles, externalizes, encourages a lot. And who will bring more to his companions in his condition. “He shows his emotions. It shows that it can be vulnerable, that it is less smooth than we thought. It is something that remains in the character of the Argentines. We expect all that a little bit and the rest players give their all for him,” Angel Marcos decrypts.


All his aggravated emotions also speak of the immense pressure that rests on his shoulders, and which Angel Marcos fails to describe: “He always had to endure the terrible pressure for many years. Nowadays, when you play for Argentina, it’s something you can’t explain. You don’t even have to try. Really a burden”.

Obviously, we can’t help the comparison. And this hatred of the Argentinian jersey brings him closer, except through playing, to another legend, Diego Maradona. “It’s normal that we compare him to Maradona from what we’ve seen in previous games. These are the things that are inside him, that sometimes he wants to show and then let them out. But his real character is quieter,” tempered Javier Pastore.

In 2016, however, the Pibe de Oro itself did not believe in the charisma of the seven-time Ballon d’Or. In a conversation he thought was private with Pelé, he said: “Leo is a nice boy but he has no personality. He doesn’t have enough personality to be a leader. Messi proved this wrong in Qatar, where he sometimes brushed aside his proposal. And that will be part, perhaps, of the final touch of his masterpiece.

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