No one in their right mind lowers the bar for elite athletes, and yet this is exactly what is done for Argentinian international Lionel Messi.
Quite frankly it’s both disappointing and disturbing.
Three World Cups and only two goals.
This is not a statistic that sets the world on fire. It’s instead something that, had it been any other athlete for any other team, would render that player lukewarm and hardly as visible as international athletes like Robin Van Persie (whose brilliant header against Spain may be THE goal of the World Cup) and even Messi's teammate Gonzalo Higuaín (who scored 4 goals during the 2010 World Cup).
Of course, Messi isn’t just any player. This only raises questions as to why are football onlookers expecting and accepting of so little from this star athlete.
— VAVEL.com (@VAVEL) June 16, 2014
A quick comparison to the less talked about Karim Benzema.
Benzema had his first appearance earlier in the same day for France, a team haunted by their disastrous 2010 World Cup performance.
During the game he scored two goals and forced an own goal, leading France to a thrilling 3-0 victory.
Karim Benzema does it AGAIN! Benzema's 2nd goal of the match gives France a commanding 3-0 lead over Honduras. pic.twitter.com/eNUHHBkQxt
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 15, 2014
A few hours later, Argentina hobbled out 2-1 victors over a Bosnia and Herzegovina side that was threatening to collect a point off the South American team at the last possible minute.
Yes, Argentina has a Messi goal to thank for shielding them from an embarrassing draw. However, this is only his SECOND World Cup goal in three separate appearances. His other goal was scored in 2006 against Serbia & Montenegro. He was absolutely anonymous in 2010.
Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. pic.twitter.com/MRlBVZDoOg
— ClassicFootballPics (@Footballpics96) May 8, 2014
Serbia and Bosnia aren’t exactly Spain and Germany, so why are we expected to be dazzled by Messi managing to find the net only two times in three major tournaments against a pair of second-rate international teams?
Far less talked about international stars have stunned bigger international teams.
It’s time to face facts: Lionel Messi continues to be an absolute flop for Argentina. He will continue to be an international flop until he begins to score against top international teams and his goals actually help carry Argentina to a respectable finish in the World Cup.
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) June 16, 2014
With one game down, it's far too soon to bring out the holy water and anoint a man who just hasn't proven himself on this stage.
Football journalists and fans need to stop embarrassing themselves by throwing all these accolades at a series of World Cup appearances that simply DO NOT live up to the hype. Elite competitions require standards across the board.
We must stop lowering them for Lionel Messi of all people.
Image via YouTube