Dismal, disunited, disastrous

Messi's no-show, team's shortfalls & coach's tactics leave Argentina staring at early exit

Lionel Messi looking unsettled before Argentina's match against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. He failed to rally his troops and his performance was below par.
Lionel Messi looking unsettled before Argentina's match against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday. He failed to rally his troops and his performance was below par.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

When his team were singing the Himno Nacional Argentino inside the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, he was a picture of distress, rubbing his forehead vigorously.

After Croatia made it 2-0 with a Luka Modric thunderbolt with 10 minutes left, he ran his fingers through his hair and squinted as he waited for the restart.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'Dismal, disunited, disastrous'. Subscribe