It was deja vu as Chile beat Argentina again in a Copa America final on penalties but an even bigger story emerged after the game when Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international football.
The final was an exciting one as both teams went head to head, Chile were looking to win back to back Copa America’s as they were champions from 2015 and Argentina were looking to win their first major tournament since 1993. Messi the greatest player of a generation was supposed to make that difference but his team could not find a goal and after extra time the score was locked at 0-0.
And so to penalties and Messi who had been one of the players of the tournament incredibly missed his penalty as Chile belted in their remaining ones and became champions once again after Biglia missed another.
Credit had to be given to Chile who came under pressure but also went toe to toe with Argentina. They had more possession and more completed passes and had 2 shots on goal. But Argentina only had one more and it seemed on reflection that the favourites did not dominate a final that they were supposed to.
Moments after Chile celebrated an unexpected win even though they were the champions Messi was interviewed and that is when he gave his huge bombshell. Messi said: “It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis, In the dressing room I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me. That’s the way I feel right now, it’s a huge sadness once again and I missed the penalty that was so important. I tried so hard to be a champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. I think it’s best for everyone, for me and for many people who want it. The choice for me is over, it is a decision. I tried many times.
Gerardo Martino the Argentina coach reflected: “The burden of the consecutive games [lost] has been accumulating these last two years. He feels like you would expect a player to feel after playing and losing a final.”
The question that the world’s media are now asking is was Messi’s retirement speech just said in the heat of the moment? At 29 and with a World Cup just two years away it would seem odd for the world’s best player not to participate and change his mind. Only time will tell, but for now Argentina are still seeking their first trophy in a generation.