Lionel Messi is known for his calm and composed nature on the field. However, a rare occasion of Messi losing his cool yesterday during Argentina’s match against Poland surprised many. The incident involved the captains of the two teams, Lionel Messi and Polish skipper Robert Lewandowski.
It was a high-pressure match between Argentina and Poland with the stakes at an all-time high. The result of the match would determine who would qualify for the knock-out stages and who would be the winner of the group. Argentina needed a win to make it to the knock-out stages, while Poland needed only a draw. However, Argentina was awarded a controversial penalty in the first half, which shockingly, Messi missed.
Argentina had a brilliant start to the second half as Alexis Mac Alister opened the scoring for the La Albiceleste in the 46th minute. The new Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez sealed Argentina’s victory with a sublime finish in the 67th minute. Argentina was comfortably leading 2-0 when the incident with Messi and Lewandowski took place.
Messi picked up the ball near the center circle and started dribbling while Lewandowski tried to win the ball back. However, unable to win the ball fairly, Lewandowski fouled Messi. Lewandowski tried to shake hands with the Argentine skipper, but Messi, uncharacteristically, ignored Lewandowski with an annoyed look on his face.
Although it’s understandable for players to lose their cool during high-pressure games, fans have not taken this incident lightly. Fans have criticized the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner for his unsportsmanlike conduct of refusing to shake hands with Lewandowski.
God abeg oh! #Messi totally ignored #Lewandoski‘s hand shake. He also totally tried his best to avoid Lewa at full time. Was it the Ballon d’Or comments? pic.twitter.com/4vzJBtSU28
— Dr. Clive Sugar George (@SUGARCLYVE) November 30, 2022
Although Messi and Lewandowski shook hands at the end of the match followed by an embrace, this particular incident does indeed prove that even great players like Lionel Messi can let their emotions get the better of them.
Because he was able to get the ball, Messi became in a bad mood, where is the fair play, Messi, where is the sportsmanship, where is the morals, where is Messi! pic.twitter.com/6B8I4zku8e
— سعودي وبس Gentleman (@princ4u4u) December 1, 2022
Lionel Messi-Led Argentina set to face Australia in the Round of 16
After suffering a shocking defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match, Argentina has won their remaining two matches to qualify for the knock-out stages as group leaders. Argentina won 2-0 against both Mexico and Poland to seal their spot in the Round of 16. Poland and Mexico, who were second and third in the Group C table, had equal points and equal head-to-head records. However, Poland qualified for the knock-out stages based on their superior goal difference.
Lionel Messi speaks on Argentina win vs. Poland, game vs. Australia. https://t.co/6eGoUA8T9L pic.twitter.com/DRD0mpQUcK
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) November 30, 2022
Messi’s Argentina faces Australia in their Round of 16 fixture. This is the first time that Australia has qualified for the knock-out stages in their world cup history. Australia finished as Group D runners-up, following a 1-4 defeat to Kylian Mbape’s France and a 1-0 victory over both Tunisia and Denmark.
Argentina and Australia have faced each other on seven occasions before, with Argentina recording five wins, one loss, and one draw against the Socceroos. This will be the first time that two teams face each other in a major tournament.