Copa América: Messi fails again with Argentina

Argentina’s senior squad has not won a title in 26 years, with the last one coming when Lionel Messi was five years old. (AP)
Updated 03 July 2019

Copa América: Messi fails again with Argentina

  • Argentina’s senior squad has not won a title in 26 years, with the last one coming when Lionel Messi was five years old
  • The Barcelona playmaker Messi has complained about the refereeing

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil: Another elimination for Argentina, another missed opportunity for Lionel Messi to succeed with the national team.
Messi’s streak without a title with Argentina has been extended after a 2-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals of the Copa América on Tuesday.
Argentina’s senior squad hasn’t won a title in 26 years, with the last one coming when Messi was five years old.
The Barcelona playmaker stood by himself and looked in despair after the final whistle at the Mineirão Stadium.
“We played a great match,” Messi said. “We put in a great effort, but they were better than us.”
The 32-year-old Messi had his best match of the tournament, leading the team and creating most of the danger for Argentina in attack. He made a few good runs and put his teammates in good position to score, but again it wasn’t enough.
It was from a Messi cross that Sergio Agüero hit the crossbar in the first half, and in the second the Barcelona playmaker had two chances from direct free kicks, one saved by Brazil goalkeeper Allison and another that deflected off the Brazilian wall. He also struck the post with a shot from inside the area after halftime.
Messi complained about the refereeing, saying video review should have been used to check on a couple of non-calls that could have favored the Argentines with penalty kicks.
“Every minimum contact was a foul for them,” he said. “Hopefully CONMEBOL (the South American soccer confederation) will do something about these refereeing issues. We gave everything we had, but we had things going against us. But I don’t think they will do anything, Brazil manages everything.”
Messi’s only title with Argentina was with the under-23 squad in the 2008 Olympics.
His first major tournament with the senior squad was in the 2006 World Cup, when Argentina fell to host Germany in the quarterfinals. He lost to Brazil in the final of the 2007 Copa América, and three years later Argentina again fell to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Messi and Argentina again couldn’t get past the last eight in the 2011 Copa América, losing to eventual champion Uruguay.
One of Messi’s best tournaments with the national team came in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when Argentina made it to the final but lost 1-0 to Germany.
He came close again in the last two editions of the Copa América, losing both finals in penalty shootouts against Chile.
Messi was one of the three veterans who lost those two finals and the one in the World Cup in 2014, along with Agüero and Ángel Di María.
Messi said after the 2016 loss to Chile he would not return to the national team, but he sounded more optimistic this time, saying “Argentina has material to keep growing.”
Argentina will play the third-place game on Saturday in São Paulo against either two-time defending champion Chile or Peru, who will play in the other semifinal on Wednesday in Porto Alegre.


Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

Updated 16 September 2019

Gasol clinches rare NBA-World Cup double as Spain down Argentina

  • Toronto Raptors center Mark Gasol becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year

 

BEIJING: Three-time All-Star Marc Gasol became only the second man to win an NBA crown and the World Cup in the same year after Spain brushed aside Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

Spain, who survived double overtime against Australia to reach the final, led throughout in Beijing to win international basketball’s biggest prize a second time.

The only previous occasion was in 2006 with the two Gasol brothers, Marc and older sibling Pau, on the team.

Pau did not feature in China because of injury.

The latest triumph was particularly sweet for the 34-year-old center Gasol, who three months ago also played a key part in the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA title.

Gasol, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, joins Lamar Odom, a double winner in 2010 with the US and Los Angeles Lakers.

Surprise finalists Argentina had not triumphed since they hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1950.

As a contest, the final was over by the fourth quarter — although the Argentines did rally belatedly to reduce Spain’s previously mighty lead.

Fans of both teams had made it feel more like a football match, decked out in their national colors, chanting loudly and refusing to sit down.

Spain, for whom Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the leading players of the tournament in China, surged into a 14-2 lead.

In front of a capacity crowd, Argentina’s 39-year-old talisman Luis Scola could not escape the attentions of Pierre Oriola.

Led by their slick-haired Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, Spain were up 21-14 going into the second quarter and increased their advantage to 43-31 at halftime.

With Rubio prominent, drilling 20 points, Spain never looked like surrendering their lead, repeatedly thwarting Argentina’s suffocated offense.

France roared back after halftime to defeat Australia 67-59 and claim a second World Cup bronze in a row — and extend the Boomers’ long wait for a major medal.

Turkish-based guard Nando De Colo led all scorers with 19 points for France and Nicolas Batum had nine points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.

The French, one of the tallest teams at the tournament, defeated reigning two-time holders the US in the quarterfinals, but then lost heavily to Argentina.

“For us it’s something very, very special and important we did it after a very difficult first half,” French coach Vincent Collet said.

“Many teams could have given up, even easy shots we were missing in the first half.

“We started to move the ball better in the second half and that’s why we won this game.”

It was hard on Australia, who similarly led for long periods in their semifinal against Spain.

It is still the best finish for the Boomers, who had never gone beyond the quarterfinals at 11 previous World Cups, but they are yet to claim a medal at the worlds or Olympics.

Deposed champions the US, who were missing their elite names, finished seventh, their lowest position in tournament history.

They did, at least, qualify to defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next summer. With 32 teams, this was the biggest Basketball World Cup ever.

The next one will be in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines.