Iceland held Argentina to a famous 1-1 draw on Saturday. The story of the match was Lionel Messi’s missed penalty. But more than anything, the 90 minutes exposed just how dependent the Argentines are on Messi.
It’s not news. But La Albiceleste‘s 2018 World Cup opener took Messi Dependencia to a new level. And we have the pictures to prove it.
Time and time again, Argentina’s entire attack followed the same rhythm. Unprogressive passing got it nowhere. Messi, fed up with his teammates’ inability to do anything useful on the ball, came deep to get it. He drew, two, three, sometimes four defenders as he tried to break down Iceland’s low block.
And he simply couldn’t.
Because there was simply nowhere for him to go:
Wait … there are more of them! Zoom out… more Iceland defenders, still only one Messi!
Whenever he moved to within 25 yards of goal, Iceland defenders swarmed him …
… Actually, those are midfielders – which shows just how deep Iceland bunkered:
Icelandic players laid hands and hips on him … anything to slow his momentum:
Of course, they fouled him:
Messi tried to fend them off:
Or skip by them:
But he ran into roadblocks:
While Messi tried to find routes to goal, his teammates lay on the grass:
Or blocked his shots:
Now Messi’s own players are blocking his shots…
— Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell) June 16, 2018
His opportunities came from dead-ball situations. Of course, there was the penalty:
He also had multiple free kicks blocked by Iceland’s towering wall:
And he and Argentina were left to rue two points dropped:
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• Schaerlaeckens: Spain shocked first by managerial change, then Ronaldo