Leo Messi’s First International Trophy Has An Uncanny Connection With Cristiano Ronaldo


Lionel Messi finally ended the wait for his first trophy with Argentina, after beating hosts Brazil 1-0 in the final of the 2021 Copa America, on Sunday. As expected, there were immediate comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo’s first silverware with Portugal.

 

A viral tweet highlighted that they both won their first trophies with their national teams in the same way: by winning the final 1-0 in the home of the host country. Ronaldo had won the Euro 2016 by beating France 1-0 in Paris. Notably, neither scored in the final games.

 

Despite not netting in the final of the tournament, Messi still ended up as the golden boot winner. With four goals, he was tied as the top-scorer with Colombia’s Luis Díaz, but collected the trophy on account of having more assists.

The Argentine was directly involved in nine out of his team’s 12 goals, scoring four and assisting five. He was also named the player of the tournament alongside Brazil’s Neymar, winning four Man of the Match awards, completing more dribbles than any other player, as well as creating the most chances and completing the most passes in the final third.

 

He had opened his tally in the Copa with a successful free kick in the 1-1 draw against Chile, in the opening round. This goal meant that he surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally of 56 career free kick goals to become the active footballer with most free kick goals. He also surpassed Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 38 goals in official games for Argentina.

Messi scored his second in the 4-1 win over Bolivia in the last group stage encounter, before converting another free-kick in the 3–0 win over Ecuador in the quarter-finals of the competition.  The fourth came in the form of a spot kick in Argentina’s eventual 3–2 penalty shoot-out victory in the semi-finals.

 

Another Ronaldo-related coincidence is the date of the win. Akin to Portugal’s European Championship triumph in 2016, Argentina also won the 2021 Copa on July 10.

With three goals and three assists, Ronaldo was awarded the silver boot at the Euro 2016. He was forced out of action mid-match in the final due to injury, but continued to famously marshal his troops from the byline thereafter.

Here’s to this great rivalry, till it lasts!

Image credits: Twitter/CopaAmerica, Instagram/Luisnani

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