Copa America 2019: Lionel Messi's last chance for international glory?
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The 2018/2019 season was another prolific campaign for Lionel Messi as the Argentine finished as top scorer in La Liga and the Champions League. His return of 36 goals in 34 domestic league appearances has earned the Barcelona superstar the right to go home with both the Pichichi trophy and the European Golden Shoe once again.
After helping Barca claim back-to-back La Liga titles this term, Messi is also in contention to win the Ballon d'Or once again - and he is rightly leading the charge to win the award for the sixth time. Aged 31, the little genius isn't showing any signs of slowing down just yet. His exploits with Barca down the years place him in a class of his own. His avid followers will forever label him the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).
Following the conclusion of the club season, International competitions rapidly follow, with anticipation building up intensely as we eagerly prepare to watch our top stars in action for their respective nations. While we will definitely be happy to see Messi wearing the Argentina jersey once again in what could be his last Copa America tournament.
For a player who has won 5 Ballon d'Or awards, 6 European Golden Shoes, 4 Champions League trophies, 10 La Liga titles, 6 Copa del Rey's, and 3 Club World Cups to mention just a few, it is quite striking to recall that Messi is yet to win a major prize for his nation.
The attacker had a decent run during his years in the junior team, claiming success with both the U20 and the 2008/09 Olympic teams. However, he has failed to replicate such accolades since he became a full member of the senior team; despite going close on several occasions. He led the Albiceleste to the 2014 World Cup final but couldn't inspire his side past Germany, while also failing to provide an answer as Argentina lost both the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals to Chile.
Messi is gradually entering into the twilight of his career. Sooner than later, he will surely wave goodbye to the Argentina jersey for good. Fortunately, he still has the opportunity to finish his international career on a high note. Copa America 2019 is set to kick-off in four days' time. This could be his last shot at international glory as the player himself revealed recently, hence, he must grab this chance with both hands.
Therefore, Argentina must take advantage of his genius and turn it into silverware before he eventually calls time on his international career. The Copa America presents the ultimate chance to show that Messi can do it both domestically and on the international scene.
It's time to stand up and get behind their hero. From the football federation to the fans, everybody must throw their support. The supporting players need to step up too; they need to give their all on the pitch, relieve their talisman of the pressure and ensure they keep the flag flying high throughout the entire tournament rather than playing in bursts.
The manager, Lionel Sebastián Scaloni, also has his part to play. He needs to ensure Argentina finds an efficient system to get the best out of his star players. Both the defence and midfield flopped during the 2018 World Cup, hence, Scaloni has to draw up a plan to fix these flaws, or at the very least, paper over the cracks somewhat.
Having said that, let's not forget that the major task lies on the shoulders of Messi. This is probably his last shot at international glory. Therefore, once and for all, it's time for the genius to step up to the plate and carry his beloved Argentina home...