Imagine for a moment that you are Lionel Messi, widely considered in your business to be the best in the world. Nice life, isn't it?
Despite that, Messi has had a bad couple months for a player of his quality. Barcelona, considered to be the best in Europe last season, crashed out of the Champions League in the quarterfinals. Now what's so bad about that? Their direct rival Real Madrid, with Cristiano Ronaldo, won the title. Ok, Barcelona won the La Liga double (League Cup, and League Title), so it wasn't all bad.
Also there's the issue of Messi's tax case. He is charged with his father of defrauding the Spanish government with apparently not paying over €4 million. Messi has always maintained that he had no knowledge of what happened, since his father takes care of his finances.
There's the possible threat of a jail sentence for Messi. Needless to say, it's a massive personal distraction, one would imagine.
So he comes to America, to play in the Copa America, and FOX uses him as the only player we should know about in the whole tournament. And he's also tired from having to play pretty much every week for the last year. More pressure? So Argentina manager Gerardo Martino did the smart thing and sat him for the whole match against Chile on Monday. Messi was available on the bench. He was sitting out due to a bruised back, and given the stakes, he didn't need to be rushed into action.
Going into the match against Chile, and the tournament overall, the media attention has largely centered around the thought of Messi needing to deliver a trophy to Argentina. They haven't won anything on senior level since 1993, so the drought is starting to get pretty long.
It was a pretty even match on Monday, with Argentina pulling ahead in the second half in a 2-1 win, and not having to use Messi at all. Which should scare the rest of the teams in the tournament.
With the likes of Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega helping to pick up the slack in the game, making Messi's club teammate Claudio Bravo look silly at times, the game turned out as well as it could have. Even conceding a goal on the final play by Jose Fuenzalida didn't dampen the good vibes for Argentina, now in the driver's seat in Group D.
Argentina now get to face two teams who on paper appear to be far weaker than Chile in Panama and Bolivia. You expect Messi will be back on the field before long, but at this pace, maybe he can put his feet up another game or two?
What do you think? Leave a comment below!