The Argentine was the fifth best player of the 2017-2018 season, which caused controversy among the followers of the king sport
While Sport, Barcelona's newspaper, published "Messi is forgotten in the UEFA Awards", for other media such as El Mundo, the surprising fifth place of Lionel Messi, in the ranking of Europe's best players in the previous season, was a much harder impact to understand.
Leer en español: ¡De no creer! ¿Se terminó la era de Lionel Messi?
The Spanish media did not think twice before saying that "Europe banishes Messi", since the player was not selected for the final UEFA podium of the award for 'Best Player'.
The winner of the trophy will be decided between the Croatian Luka Modric, the Egyptian Mohamed Salah, and the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo. The latter has been the winner of the highest European award in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
The numbers 'bury' Messi
The 2017-2018 season was not the best for Lionel Messi, but it was not the worst either. The South American star reached the Santander League and Copa del Rey, in Spain. In addition, the 34 goals he scored in the league competition not only positioned him as the top scorer of the season in the Iberian country, but throughout Europe, where he reached the 'Golden Boot'.
However, for the 135 prize juries (80 coaches and 55 journalists), according to El Clarín, it seemed that local achievements did not have much impact when staggering players in the UEFA ranking. In fact, the three players who aspire to the title have something in common: they are all finalists in the Champions League.
Unfortunately, for 'Lio', both Cristiano (top scorer with 15 touchdowns) and Modric were crowned continental champions for the third time in a row (2016-2018). For his part, Salah made a spectacular campaign with Liverpool scoring 10 goals, with which he led the English team until the last game of the Champions League. Unluckily, for the Egyptian, a Ramos’ ticket got him out of the game and the 'reds' lost the title.
On the other hand, Messi was not as decisive as in other seasons. According to the official website of UEFA, in ten Champions League matches, the player could only made six goals.
On a collective level, the Argentine suffered with Barcelona the surprise and early elimination of the competition in the quarterfinals, when losing the series against Italy's Rome. This is the third consecutive time that Barcelona remains outside the best four of the cup, since 2015, when he was crowned champion.
Consequently, 'La Pulga' missed the three matches resulting from the semifinal (2) and the final (1), as well as the Club World Cup, which also won Real Madrid, and in which Cristiano Ronaldo was able to increase his scoring account and Modric dazzle the European jury.
Did the World Cup also influence?
2018 not only left disappointments at club level for Lionel Messi, but also in the field of selections. In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Argentine team could only reach the round of 16, where it fell against what would be the champion: France.
However, the path of the 'albiceleste' could finish earlier, because the group stage was flooded with many problems (tactical and technical) that meant a moment of tension to Argentine fans and Messi
In the first game, the South American team could not go from a 1-1 against the rookie Iceland. This match, for Messi, not only meant a draw with taste of defeat, but the first slump of the tournament, since the player missed the penalty that could give the victory to his team.
"Messi joined Fernando Paternoster (Uruguay 1930) and Ariel Ortega (Korea-Japan 2002) in the list of Argentine footballers who failed penalties in World Cups", was the not at all pleasant fact that Infobae collected, in relation to Messi’s mistake.
After this, 'Lio' had to face the three to zero against Croatia (with Modric as the main figure), to finally be able to score his only goal in Russia 2018 against Nigeria, in the last match of the phase of groups. Messi could not pass the 'fourth game', while Modric reached the final.
Although it is not the first time that the five-time winner of the 'Golden Ball' remains outside of the three best in Europe - it was the same in 2014 and 2016 - neither is the controversy generated by its contractors. For example, Juanma Rodríguez, columnist for the newspaper MARCA, asks: "How is Messi going to be the best in the world if he is not among the three best in Europe?".
LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez
Translated from “¡De no creer! ¿Se terminó la era de Lionel Messi? ”