Is this the year that Lionel Messi wins a trophy for Argentina at the Copa America?


The Copa America kicks off tomorrow and all eyes will be on the most important competition in South America, which welcomes other nations this year such as Japan and Qatar who have been invited. But what is surely on everyone’s minds is can Lionel Messi finally win a major trophy for Argentina?

Time is running out for arguably one of the best players to ever grace the game to win something for his country. True Messi has actually won the under 20 World Cup and an Olympic Gold for the national side, but he will be well aware that what really counts is either a World Cup or a Copa America.

It’s not as if Messi hasn’t been close either. Argentina reached the World Cup final in 2014, their best performance since 1990 but lost 1-0 in a dire final against the more slicker Germany. In 2015 Argentina then reached the Copa America final but there would be more heartbreak for Messi and co when they lost on penalties to the hosts Chile after the game had finished 0-0 after extra time.

Then there was the major rub the salt in the wounds type of result when the following year the Copa America was held again this time in America. The reason for it being held in 2016 was to mark the 100th anniversary of the competition. Argentina were superb which included beating the USA 4-0 on their way to the final where they would meet Chile again. And again the match ended 0-0 after extra time and again Argentina lost the final on penalties, which included Messi missing his one.

This led Messi to quit the national team- everyone knew he hadn’t really not with a World Cup in Russia coming up and at the time he was still in his 20′s but it was a real shocker for Messi to lose yet again in a major final, his 3rd loss in a row.

The big news in Brazil is that the host nation will be without Neymar, that can only be good news for any rival nation. But can Argentina win the competition? Well they are the second favourites to do so, but as we’ve seen time and again even if Brazil falter at home there are some other strong teams and the likes of Chile who have won the competition two times in a row cannot be ignored.

Argentina will kick off their competition on June 15th against Colombia and will also play Paraguay in two potentially tough games. Their final group game is against Qatar where they will be big favourites to win, at the same time Qatar have improved significantly over the last year but Argentina should be able to qualify for the knockout stages.

July 7th will already be etched into Messi’s mind. That is the final date and could well end up being one of the most special nights in Messi’s career- who said the football season had finished?

Does Neymar’s injury prove that friendlies are pointless matches?


Neymar, Brazil’s gold dust will miss this summers Copa America which is being held in his native Brazil because of ankle ligament damage and it is a massive blow for the player and his country.

The frustrating situation is that one of the best attacking players in the world will miss a major competition in his home country because of an injury sustained not in a Champions League final or a league title run in, but because he played in a money spinning friendly against Qatar, in a match that meant nothing, save to please some sponsors.

It is a desperate situation in modern day football how many games players have to play every year, some play as much as 70 when you take in internationals, and for the most part if you are playing for nothing, what is the point in playing? Of course it comes down to money and contracts, which is evidently ruining the game.

Now Neymar cannot play in what will be one of the biggest tournaments for Brazil in their home country. The last time they had this opportunity was in 2014 in the World Cup. Though for the semi-finals they missed Neymar through injury yet again.

But this injury feels different as it was obtained in a meaningless friendly. If we go back a few years the same situation happened to Zinedine Zidane. Picture the scene, France came to the 2002 World Cup as the champions and Zidane was now a Real Madrid player, he was rightly seen as the best player on the planet. But alas we were robbed of his talent when he was injured in a nothing game, a warm up for the World Cup. He missed the bulk of group games, and was rushed back for the final by which time they were virtually out and he was rusty, the champions were knocked out at the group stage that year.

It may seem harsh on neutral fans especially who want to watch their heroes but one wonders if friendly matches should only be played by up and coming players and not recognised ones such as the Zidane’s and Neymar’s of this world. What difference would it have made if Neymar had played against Qatar? From his ability/fitness point of view the answer is none, again it comes down to bums on seats and money, but it’s incredibly unfortunate that the Copa America will now be robbed of Neymar’s skills and inevitable goals.


Why is Xavi being allowed to move to Qatar?

Various reports are suggesting long-serving Barcelona midfielder Xavi is close to signing for Al Sadd in the summer. Xavi, 35, looks set to end a 24-year association with the Spanish club, but why is he being allowed to move to the Qatari club?

“(Al Sadd) confirms the latest news about the club’s interest in signing the Spanish star Xavi Hernandez is still under negotiation. On the matter, the FC Barcelona player is currently in Doha with his family to know more about the country he would live in if he were to decide to join the club. The club would make further official announcements only if further developments take place,” said a club statement.

Such a deal appears close to taking place, but a player who has been among the best in his position for close to a decade shouldn’t be allowed to leave Europe. There are many clubs who would want Xavi, and he won’t have been without interest from the best sides in the world.

German Bundesliga holders and current leaders Bayern Munich signed 33-year-old Xabi Alonso from Real Madrid – who plays a similar role as Xavi, and manager Pep Guardiola – a former Barcelona player, manager, and teammate of Xavi – would certainly consider renewing acquaintances with such a brilliant club servant. Juventus have managed to get the best form from 35-years-old Andrea Pirlo, so they could be another side interested.

His importance for Barcelona has dwindled, however, and that has led to him losing his place in the side to summer signing Ivan Rakitic. Despite that, Xavi still has plenty to offer a side willing to play to his strengths. Xavi’s CV trumps that of most existing players, but the Catalans are happy to let him go.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: “Xavi has earned the right to decide (his) future. He has a contract until the end of the next (season). If he believes he must finish earlier, (he will) have the full support of the board.”

The former Spanish international has reportedly been taking a tour of the club to see their facilities, and Al Sadd are currently second in the table in their domestic league. He’s made 750 appearances for Barcelona, and has helped transform the way football has been played in Spain. Few players will ever match his achievements in football, so Al Sadd are very fortunate to have a player of his quality and fame close to joining the club.

Xavi does turn 36 next January, however, he still has a couple more years of service in his position, yet he has been allowed to join Al Sadd rather than a more presitigious European outfit?