Those were the blunt words of the British media outlet The Mirror in response to the behavior of the “God of Soccer” Lionel Messi (36, Inter Miami).
Argentina were brought to their knees by Uruguay 0-2 in their fifth South American qualifier for the FIFA Confederations Cup North America 2026 at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires on Sunday (July 17).
Defending champions Argentina, on a four-game winning streak, suffered a blow at home. It was their first loss of the qualifiers. Nevertheless, they remain in first place with 12 points (4W-1D). Uruguay is in second place with 10 points (3 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss).
Argentina brought out a 4-3-3 formation. Nico Gonzalez-Hulian Alvarez-Lionel Messi, Enso Fernandez-Alexis McAllister-Rodrigo de Paul, Nicolas Tagliafico-Nicolas Otamendi-Cristian Romero-Nauel Molina, and Emiliano Martinez started.레모나토토 주소
Uruguay lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Darwin Núñez, Maximiliano Araujo, Nicolas de la Cruz, Facundo Felistri, Federico Valverde, Manuel Ugarte, Matias Vigna, Matias Olivera, Sebastian Caceres, Ronald Araujo, Sergio Rochette.
Argentina went into the match against Uruguay with their best squad, not much different from the one that won the World Cup in Qatar 2022, but they struggled with Uruguay’s ‘costly counterattack’ strategy. In particular, Uruguay tied Messi down with intensive marking.
Uruguay opened the scoring. In the 40th minute, Vigna stole the ball from Molina on the left flank and crossed to the other side. Araujo connected with a pinpoint shot that rattled the net.
Argentina fought back with Messi at the center, but the game didn’t go their way. Substitutions for Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria didn’t help. To make matters worse, in the 11th minute of the second half, Messi’s free kick hit the post.
In the end, Argentina conceded a late 41st-minute goal to Núñez and hung their heads in shame at a two-goal deficit.
The ‘Messi mauling’ happened in the 19th minute of the first half. As Argentina attacked, Gonzalez was hit in the face by Araujo and fell to the ground, but the Uruguayan players continued to play as if nothing had happened. The Argentine players started to get angry, and at the same time, Argentina’s Ugarte and Uruguay’s De Paul got into a nerve-wracking fight. Soon, players began to gather around them.
Messi was furious when he saw Ugarte taunting De Paul. In the process, he grabbed Oliveira, who lunged at De Paul. The referee had to break them up. The tension continued in the second half. In the 21st minute, Messi drew a foul in front of the Uruguayan penalty box and Ugarte and De Paul got into another fight.
According to Goal.com, Messi said after the game, “The younger players have to look at the older players and learn to respect them. The matches between Argentina and Uruguay were always intense and difficult, but there was also a lot of respect. They should learn from that.”
Of course, the defeat was not lost on Messi. “We never felt comfortable,” Messi said. Uruguay were physically strong and very threatening on the counter-attack. Today it was our turn to lose. We have to bounce back and play a good game in Brazil.”
The Mirror, however, believes that Messi’s “slap” was a red card in itself. “Messi avoided a red card and lost to Uruguay,” it mocked.
“I’ve never seen a player (Messi) so protected,” said one fan, according to foreign news outlet JOE. Another fan agreed, saying, “If it was any other player, he would have gotten a red card.”
“Messi is being called the most protected player of all time,” said Sports Illustrated.