Argentina dropped two points at home to Paraguay on Thursday evening in the qualification phase for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, forcing a visibly frustrated Lionel Messi to hit out at the referee. “You’ve already screwed us twice,” he was seen to say according to Marca.
The competition in South America to qualify for the World Cup is generally considered to be the most difficult in the game – not only do you have proud footballing heritage and top stars throughout the continent, but you also have to travel extremely long distances and (usually) deal with fevered support. The cynicism that exists in Europe regarding international breaks isn’t shared in this part of the world.
That makes the 1-1 result for Argentina so disappointing. La Albiceleste remain top of the table for their qualification group, but could be leapfrogged by Brazil when they host Venezuela on Friday evening. Coincidentally, the referee for Argentina’s clash with Paraguay was Brazilian, a man named Raphael Claus, and he didn’t end the evening in Messi’s good books.
The Barcelona star had a number of opportunities to get his name on the scoresheet but proved unable to do so – Angel Romero opened the scoring for the visitors before Nicolas Gonzales brought Argentina level. The clash saw some very strong challenges fly in on both sides, and with the atmosphere getting hot, the tension building and a goal of his disallowed by VAR, Messi exploded.
“You already screwed us twice,” he shouted, signalling with two fingers. “You screwed us twice,” he repeated. Claus visited the VAR monitor to review a fold committed by Gonzalez on Romero that occurred almost half a minute before Messi took the ball inside the area and scored, only for the Brazilian official to subsequently rule it out. “It’s incredible, shameful,” the forward was seen to be repeating in disgust. Next up for La Albiceleste is a trip to Peru on Tuesday night.
Featured image courtesy of Sky Sports.