The Argentine press are absolutely tearing Lionel Messi to shreds today

The Barcelona legend carried his country to the World Cup, yet this is the gratitude he gets?

Part and parcel of being the greatest player to have ever lived is the level of expectation.

Lionel Messi is that – but today he has been made a scapegoat for failing to inspire a diabolical Argentina side against Croatia.

Argentina are staring down the barrel of an embarrassing World Cup exit having picked up just a solitary point from their two games so far.

A sorry sight

Messi hasn’t been himself, but the Argentine press have seemingly forgotten about his one-man mission to carry his country to Russia in the first place.

That’s because the media back home, while still criticising his totally inept team-mates and clueless manager, are absolutely slaughtering Messi.

Messi seemed to know before the game it would all end in tears

La Nación’s Christian Gross said: “Messi didn’t come to the rescue.

“His head of glass shattered into a thousand pieces.”

The criticism kept on coming.

A lone figure

“The captain was once more absent, he played badly, he looked spent and he left the field staring at the ground,” said Hernan Claus of Olé.

“He didn’t take charge of the team not before going 1-0 down nor after.

“Exhausted, not finding his place on the field, searching for link-ups that weren’t there – Pavón and Dybala came on too late – lost in the field and only lit up by his green boots.”

Back in La Nación, Christian Fest said: “It’s not Messi plus 10 anymore, it’s 11 minus Messi.

“The first half an hour of the game made it clear that it’s not like the captain doesn’t want it, even if his body language in the remaining hour of the game did allow the question as to how much.”

Village idiot

Before their opening game with Iceland, no Argentina player other than Messi had scored in a competitive fixture since November 2016.

With a squad of bristling attacking talent at his disposal Jorge Sampaoli has somehow managed to make Argentina look predictable, slow and devoid of ideas.

Against the Croats Messi was joined by the likes of Maximiliano Meza, Maros Acuna and Enzo Perez – who was on holiday when he got the call up – in the starting line up.

Is this really your creative midfielder?

Sampaoli deployed a 34-year-old Javier Mascherano as his creative midfield pivot, despite not playing there for nearly four years and the presence of Ever Banega on the bench.

Yet for the Argentina press the buck has fallen with Messi who, for once, failed to channel his superhuman powers and act as his country’s saviour again.

Maybe he is human after all, but no player in history could have carried that amount of deadwood to glory.

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