by Vinay Kshirsagar
While this is not the World Cup, it is still a major international competition, and adds context to the upcoming World Cup for Lionel Messi.
Copa America 2007 – Venezuela
Argentina reached the final of the Copa America, losing to Brazil 3-0. This being Messi’s second major tournament with the senior Argentina national team, he started all of the important games. He was a finalist for player of the tournament and he won the award for young player of the tournament. Argentina came into the final expecting to win, since Brazil did not have their strongest players on the field, so the loss was a disappointment (and would be the first of many cup final letdowns for Messi).
Overall Stats: 6 apperances, 2 goals 
Copa America 2011 – Argentina
Argentina only made it as far as the quarter-finals, losing on penalties to eventual champions Uruguay after the score ended 1-1. Messi converted his penalty kick but due to Tevez’ miss, Argentina were knocked out.
Messi was apparently booed by the Argentinian spectators when he performed poorly, in his own country. Despite 3 assists in the tournament, he was unable to carry the team, like the World Cup the year previously.
Overall Stats: 4 appearances, 3 assists 
Copa America 2015 – Chile
Again, Argentina reached the final, this time losing 4-1 on penalty kicks to Chile after a 0-0 game. Messi converted his penalty kick, but Higuain, a common scapegoat for Messi’s lack of international trophies, missed his. Higuain had also had a good chance to score during regulation time. (There’s a theme! See our Higuain page).
Messi was going to win player of the tournament, however he allegedly refused to accept the award, resulting in no such award being given out to anybody. It’s clear how much more international team trophies matter to him than individual achievements.
Overall Stats: 6 appearances, 1 goal, 3 assists 
Copa America 2016 Centenario – USA
Déjà vu, as Argentina lost yet again to Chile in the final, on penalty kicks. Argentina had previously beaten Chile in the group stages 2-1. This time, Messi failed to convert his penalty. Soon after the final, Messi announced his retirement from international football (a decision which he reversed soon after, thankfully, otherwise we wouldn’t be writing this guide). After this final, he had lost 3 straight international tournament finals in 3 years, so you can understand his sorrow.
Overall stats: 6 appearances, 5 goals (including 1 hat trick), 4 assists 
 “Copa America 2007.” Martin Tabeira, Neil Morrison. October 23, 2007. http://www.rsssf.com/tables/2007safull.html. Accessed April 22, 2018.
 “Copa America 2011.” Pablo Cullini. July 2, 2015. http://www.rsssf.com/tables/2011safull.html. Accessed April 22, 2018.
 “Copa America 2015.” CONMEBOL.com. 2015. http://www.conmebol.com/es/copa-america-2015. Accessed April 22, 2018. Translated to English via web browser.
 “Lionel Messi allegedly refuses best player award at Copa America as trophy removed from ceremony.” JJ Bull. July 6, 2015. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/babb/11720312/Lionel-Messi-allegedly-refuses-best-player-award-at-Copa-America-as-trophy-removed-from-ceremony.html. Accessed April 22, 2018.
 “Copa America Centenario.” CONMEBOL.com. 2016. http://www.conmebol.com/en/copa-america-centenario. Accessed April 22, 2018.
 “Lionel Messi returns to Argentina after his resignation after the Copa America.” T13.com. August 12, 2016. http://www.t13.cl/noticia/deportes13/mundial-rusia-2018/lionel-messi-vuelve-seleccion-argentina-luego-su-renuncia-post-copa-america. Accessed April 22, 2018. Translated to English via web browser.
How to cite this page:
“Messi vs. Ronaldo – The Final Showdown?” Written by Philemon Kiptoo and Vinay Kshirsagar (2018). World Cup 2018 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, https://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/mens-world-cup-2018-guide/messi-vs-ronaldo/ (accessed on [date]).