World’s best footballer, Lionel Messi missed the curtain-raiser against Chile in the ongoing Copa America Centenario.
The star player took a hit in the friendly game against Honduras and has not been able to rest well as his recovery has been interrupted by court proceedings. The Argentine forward had to return to Barcelona to answer tax fraud charges last week.
The Captain was replaced by Nicolas Gaitan in Santa Clara. The Blaugrana star is reported to still be in pain due to the blow to his back, and decided he was not fit to start against Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side. The Argentine coach Gerardo Martino on Sunday told the press that Messi would be given the chance to prove his fitness ahead of the Chile match but that there was a replacement [Gaitan] to avoid risking the player.
The injury forced Argentina to play Gaitan in a three man attack. The Benfica winger joined Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria, making his first appearance in a major international tournament. Ahead of the much anticipated game, Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal said in a press conference on Sunday that he wanted Messi to play:
“I would like for Messi to play, I would like for him to recover, not only for Argentina but also for the sake of soccer because I want tomorrow to be a great soccer game, for the spectators to enjoy the game.”
The FIFA Ballon D’or winner went on miss the match but Argentina still pulled a wonderful performance. Chile seemed kept at bay as Argentina ran riot through the entire game. Di Maria scored and got an assist. Ahead of the game, many had worries about the form of this year’s Chilean side as they were different from their 2015 self. The first half ended 0-0 but Di Maris smashed home the ball in the 50th minute. Di Maria also gave the assist to Banega who widened the gap eight minutes later. The consolation goal for Chile came through Fuenzalida in the overtime as they scored from a free kick.