Where do you start? Or well, how do you start? The performance of Argentina and Lionel Messi against Croatia is one that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. It was bad, horrible, pathetic, abysmal and dismal. Well, out of synonyms we are.
No team can ever play the way 2014 finalists played in their 3-0 loss to Croatia. And it wasn't even a loss. It was demolition, humiliation and torture. And the last team who suffered such fate was Spain, back in 2014, when they lost 5-1 to Netherlands.
So, where did it go wrong for Argentina? Well, the real question is where it didn't?
Let's start of by analyzing Messi. Yes, the five-time Ballon d'Or has to take the blame, not because he is arguably the best player in the world, but because he is the leader in the team.
He was anonymous in the draw against Iceland in Argentina's first match. Well, anonymous may be the wrong word, but off-color sounds perfectly fine. The Argentina skipper inexplicably missed a penalty, wasted a couple of free kicks, and looked nowhere near his best. Though, he could have been forgiven, given it was the first match of the tournament.
But his performance in the second match was even worse. Messi was invisible. He didn't look like a part of the team, and more importantly, it felt like he didn't care. Well, everyone knows his love for the nation, but his performance on the pitch suggested otherwise. And quite honestly, just 20 touches in the first half summed up how lost he was.
And now, from one villain, we go to another, who is none other than the team's coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Well, what on earth was he thinking by keeping Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria on the bench for this crucial game is beyond logic. It's true that the team needs to revolve around Messi, given he is the star man.
Before the tournament, the manager said that it isn't the right time to play Messi and Dybala together. It could have been understandable, given both are similar type of players, and like to play at No.10.
But Argentina aren't a team filled with superstars. Dybala is arguably the second best player in the squad after Messi. The coach had to find a solution or formation where the two could have fit together.
And what about di Maria? Well, he played the first match, and was quite poor, but he is a game changer. Then you also have Higuain, who is a known goal scorer. Sampaoli buckled under the fans pressure, and kept his potent goal scorer out for both the matches.
A small mention must also go to Willy Caballero. Now, no one expects him to perform like Manuel Neuer or David de Gea, but no one even expects him to perform like a 10-year-old school kid.
What was he thinking when he played that horrendous chipped pass, which led to the first goal. Playing from the back isn't his forte, and he should have just stuck by what he knows the best.
After all these negatives, Argentina still have a chance to qualify for next round, but need results to go in their favor. But till then, they should just sit down, and look upon the shocking display they have put up till now in the tournament.