Lionel Messi Has Scored Just Four Goals In 20 International Knockout Fixtures

To say he's arguably the greatest player ever to play the game, Lionel Messi's record in knockout games for Argentina is incredibly poor.

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Brazil in last night's Copa America semi-final means Messi is still searching for his first bit of silverware on the international stage after nine separate tournaments.

The 32-year old wasn't particularly bad last night and was denied by the woodwork and a superb save from Alisson Becker on two different occasions but it was another tournament to forget for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

He scored just once (a penalty against Paraguay) in the second game and failed to register an assist from open play. In fact, in the 20 knockout games Messi has played for La Albiceleste he's scored just four times and those goals came in the 2007 and 2016 Copa America tournaments.

While he is Argentina's all-time record goalscorer with 68 goals in 35 appearances, Messi's latest blank in the seventh instance he has failed to score in the knockouts of international tournaments - which is just remarkable for a generational talent who has won everything and broke countless individual records at club level.

There has been a lot of fine margins and near misses for Messi and he does deserve better from his teammates, but the fact remains that his performances for his country when it matters have just not been good enough.

A frustrated Messi went in on the referees after last night's exit - specifically referring to them not going to VAR for a foul on Sergio Aguero in the build-up to Roberto Firmino's goal.

Image: PA
Image: PA

"They were not better than us. They found the net early and the second goal came from a penalty [to Sergio Agüero] they didn't award," the Argentina skipper told reporters after the match.

"They [the officials] had booked a lot of bulls**t, but they didn't even check the VAR, that's incredible.

"That happened all over the game. At the first glance of contact, they ruled in their [Brazil's] favour and this kind of bulls**t distracted us from the game.

"There is no excuses for us, but we need to review this, analyse it and let's hope CONMEBOL does something about it."

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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