Lionel Messi has felt many different emotions at the Maracanã. It was in the iconic Brazilian stadium that he suffered his biggest career defeat: the 2014 World Cup final. The loss brought strong criticism that shook the Argentina talisman for years. But it was also in Rio that he won the Copa América in 2021, his first title for the national team and which paved the way for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Two years after winning the South American title, Messi returns to the Maracanã on Tuesday (Wed 00.30am Irish time) for a World Cup qualifier at the perfect moment. Facing a Brazil in crisis, lost and full of instability since their elimination in Qatar, Messi could have his final coronation, with the recognition and applause of the rival fans in what is one of the greatest classics in world football.
“It would be an achievement for Messi to be cheered in Brazil. It’s a game at the Maracanã, a world classic game,” says the former Brazil left-back Adriano, who played with Messi between 2010 and 2016 at Barcelona.
“I’d approve if it happened. It would really honour his career. It would be historic. Even though he’s Argentinian, it’s recognition for what he represents to world football.” Adriano closely followed Messi’s ups and downs over six seasons. There were many many more positive moments, of course, but the lows always affected the No 10.
“I often saw him upset at the criticism for never winning the World Cup. There was always a lot of pressure on him to be like Maradona and to win the World Cup.”
The most painful defeat was the 1-0 final loss against Germany in 2014. The failure in Brazil was followed by devastating defeats in two other finals, against Chile at the Copa América in 2015 and 2016. After the second one,Read on irishexaminer.com