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21st Jun 2018

Lionel Messi looked understandably stressed during Argentina’s national anthem

Messi appeared to be trying to cover his face during the anthem

Simon Lloyd

Lionel Messi, as you probably know by now, is good at playing football

With five Ballon d’Ors to his name, there’s no disputing that he’s one of the greatest ever to take to a football field. Perhaps he’d be seen as¬†the greatest ever were it not for a certain bloke from Madeira.

Although he’s idolised by supporters of Barcelona, where he’s spent the entirety of his club career, the feeling towards him doesn’t quite seem to be the same from fans of the Argentina national side.

He might have won the Golden Ball for his contribution to the country’s run to the World Cup final four years ago, but there’s a sense that Messi’s generally not the same force when on international duty as he is when he pulls on a Barca shirt.

Messi has been on the receiving end of plenty of criticism since Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup. His second half penalty was saved in the game, and manager Jorge Sampaoli has since urged supporters not to blame his number ten for their poor start to the campaign.

Regardless of this, many watching coverage of Argentina’s national anthem prior to their second game against Croatia felt Messi looked incredibly burdened by the weight of expectation from his countrymen.

As the camera scanned the Argentina line-up, Messi was seen rubbing his forehead, with some suggesting he was deliberately trying to cover his face.

Messi’s draw with Iceland left them joint second in their group after the first set of games. Croatia topped the group after beating Nigeria 2-0 in their opening game, meaning victory over Argentina would guarantee their passage to the the last 16.

Nigeria take on Iceland on Friday afternoon, with the final games in the group taking place next Tuesday.