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13 October, 2017 09:13:13 AM
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Argentina’s debt to saviour Messi

ESPN FC
Argentina’s debt to saviour Messi

“Messi is Argentine,” screamed the front page of daily sports paper Ole on Wednesday, echoing perhaps the three most immediately relevant words of Jorge Sampaoli’s news conference from the night before. Lionel Messi dominated the post-match reaction almost as much as he dominated Argentina's 3-1 win away to Ecuador, reports ESPN FC.

Even away from Ole -- the country’s only daily dedicated solely to sport -- the big newspapers lent their covers over to the nation’s hero. “The genius that is Messi has put us into the World Cup” was Clarin's headline, while La Nacion opted for: “Thanks to Messi.”

La Nacion contributor and former Argentina international Diego Latorre put it best: “In the worst possible conditions ... Messi once again showed all his rebelliousness and class, and in so doing he transmitted it to his teammates.”

Pagina 12's front page, meanwhile, opted for an image of Messi's face superimposed on an image of Jesus Christ, and the headline “El Messias,” Spanish for -- as you probably can guess – “The Messiah.”

That last headline is hardly the most original, but it's one that's been frequently used by Argentine fans in the last few years. Images of Messi as the Messiah or a saint have inspired more than a few memes on social media, as did the simultaneous failure of Chile -- a nation with which Argentina has always felt a degree of enmity which has only been exacerbated by the pair's recent meetings in the finals of the 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa Centenario -- to qualify.

The Obelisco, the main monument to Argentine independence in downtown Buenos Aires, is always a focus for fans when their team enjoys success,

so inevitably some supporters spilled out of nearby bars to celebrate after the game, even if the hundreds who did so were understandably far less than the estimated half a million who inundated the surrounding avenues after Argentina finished runners-up at the last World Cup.

By and large, though, Argentines aren't big on watching matches in bars -- it's not an unknown practice, but fans visiting from English-speaking countries are frequently surprised by how few do it -- and instead choose to watch in their living rooms, or those of friends.

Those of us watching on satellite

television (with the signal taking a crucial few seconds longer to reach our screens) had all three of Messi’s goals spoiled by neighbours rushing out to balconies to scream in joy, thumping the walls or -- in the case of the unlucky few who were driving during the game -- honking horns as they (presumably) listened on the radio. Those with only a passing interest who were at the gym or other activities commented that they were able to track the scoreline by counting the yells from nearby buildings.

And what of the fans? Similar to the front pages, praise for Messi is universal.

“Messi saved Argentina from the sporting and economic disaster that not heading to the World Cup would have been,” said River Plate fan Andres, though he also pointed out that it's not all good news. "A lot of things need to be changed still, in the team and also at the Argentine FA, but as we've qualified it's hard to imagine those will happen. Still, it was good to see [River midfielder] Enzo Perez -- I think including him was the first really big correct decision of [Jorge] Sampaoli's time in charge.”

Perhaps the most famous fan of the national team, Diego Maradona, has often criticised Messi, but made a visible show of support on Tuesday night via Instagram, posting a picture of Messi with the words (in Spanish) saying: “Our sky blue and white is still respected around the world!”

Now the nightmare of qualifying is over, Maradona and many others are optimistic that the best is yet to come. 

DG

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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