Lionel Messi Did Not Fancy Pressing Against Brazil In Copa America Semi-Final

Lionel Messi isn't on the pitch to defend but the five-time Ballon d'Or showed a worrying lack of effort to win the ball back against Brazil last night.

A clip from Argentina's 2-0 loss showing Messi barely putting an effort into his pressing has been doing the rounds and it doesn't look great on the five-time Ballon d'Or.

12 minutes into the game Brazil players are just knocking the ball about on the halfway line and though Sergio Aguero tries to buzz about a bit, Messi barely moves.

We're not expecting Messi to be running around tirelessly and wasting all his energy but he certainly should be showing more application.

Sometimes Messi gets a bit of a free run because you know if you give him the ball he will make things happen but even his old boss Pep Guardiola would have not tolerated this.

Perhaps there is another side to the story, however, because earlier this year Messi's manager at Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde, told The Financial Times that Messi often reserves the "first minutes" of each match for interpretation.

Rather than get involved in the opening stages, he ignores the ball and examines the opposition defenders by walking around them.

Messi watches every single step with meticulous detail, fixing every movement of the opposition's position in his head while spotting weaknesses in their game.

Image: PA
Image: PA

"As the game advances, he gets in little by little. But he knows perfectly where the rivals' weaknesses are." Valverde said.

Regardless of whether there is indeed method to his genius, Messi will be well aware that his performances in international tournaments have not been good enough for a player of his ilk.

In 20 knockout fixtures, Messi has scored just four goals - two in the 2007 Copa America and two in the 2016 Copa America.

In this year's tournament he scored just once on the whole - from the penalty spot against Paraguay - and also failed to register an assist.

Josh Lawless

Josh is a writer who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.

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