What did Lionel Messi say about the Mexico national team?
Lionel Messi revealed how he motivated his teammates in the match between Argentina and Mexico in Qatar 2022.
The group-stage clash against Mexico was Argentina’s toughest match on the way to winning the Qatar 2022 World Cup, according to Lionel Messi. The Paris Saint-Germain star believed that to be the case due to the fact that if Lionel Scaloni’s side lost to El Tri, they would have been eliminated from the World Cup.
Speaking in an interview with Argentinian sports newspaper Olé, the Albiceleste captain revealed details of the pep talk he gave his teammates at halftime. At that stage, the game was goalless and Mexico had set their stall out to defend and frustrate their opponents.
What did Messi say in his half-time pep talk in Argentina vs Mexico?
“I remember talking to the boys and telling them that I knew that we were in a difficult situation, but we had to try to get out of it. Forget what was at stake and play like we always played. We had been on an unbeaten run of 35 games and we knew that if we kept doing what we had been doing, we were better than Mexico, although they are a great team and it was a difficult test because of their style of play. But we knew that man to man, we were better than them.”
“If we played calmly and patiently, like we always did, we were going to win. But the hard part was being patient enough and calm enough not to rush things. We had to move the ball from one side to the other, to wait for spaces to open up and not force it, they were going to appear on their own. Our anxiety got the better of us at times and made us play too quickly, which made us give the ball away, but that’s normal because of type of game it was”, Messi recalled.
Argentina ultimately won the game thanks to two fantastic goals from Messi and Enzo Fernández, much to their relief. The defeat left Mexico starting elimination in the face, which was confirmed despite a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in their final group match.
Mexico victory a World Cup turning point for Argentina
For Messi, the win against Mexico was a turning point for Argentina: “The Mexico game was a unique challenge which made us stronger. After that, I was really confident and calm. We started to control matches much better, we had longer spells of possession. It was what we had been doing before we lost to Saudi Arabia”, he assessed.