Lionel Messi and Argentina have the perfect start to their FIFA World Cup 2026 campaign. Messi’s Argentina, who won the World Cup in Qatar last year, will be hoping to replicate their feat in 2026. The World Champions had their first match of the World Cup 2026 qualifiers against Ecuador last night. However, the fans were quick to notice Lionel Messi’s heated moment with the match officials after the match.
In what was a rather tough game, Argentina failed to score against the sturdy Ecuadorian defense until the 78th minute. Despite dominating possession and creating several chances, Argentina struggled to put the ball in the net. However, as he’s done so many times for his country and his clubs in the past, Lionel Messi once again turned out to be the hero of the night.
Messi’s perfectly taken free kick in the 78th minute ended up being the solitary goal of the night. It was the Argentine skipper’s 104th goal for the national team and the 65th free kick of his career. Despite winning the game, Messi was spotted going ballistic on the match officials. The incident has gone viral on the Internet, with one fan even writing, “Messi is very aggressive these days.“
Here are some reactions from fans on X:
Messi is very aggressive these days
— Kachwanya (@kachwanya) September 8, 2023
Bad boy Messi is a vibe
— Pedravi | Gala x Barça 💙❤️💛 (@GalaBarcaSaray) September 8, 2023
He’s become very aggressive the past few years… maybe this is why he’s enjoyed better results
— Funny Football Banter (@FunnyFootyB) September 8, 2023
He realised this ain’t MLS & the referee won’t tolerate him
— Sahil (@SahilMufc) September 8, 2023
He’s more assertive because now he’s the captain he had to defend the team.
— Kemanamana (@kemanamana) September 8, 2023
But if ronaldo does that hes a cry baby
— fix1ng🪢👑♟️ (@thuml11) September 8, 2023
While the actual reason behind Messi’s temper remains unknown, the former PSG star was probably unhappy with some decisions in the match that went Ecuador’s way. Nevertheless, both Lionel Messi and Argentina will be happy with the victory. Following yesterday’s match, Argentina will travel to La Paz for their next qualifier match against Bolivia.
Lionel Scaloni comments about the level of soccer in South America
Meanwhile, Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni spoke about the level of South American soccer following Argentina’s win over Ecuador. Scaloni said, “South American qualifiers are the most difficult in the world.” He further challenged anyone who believed that South American soccer was easy to come and prove it to him.
Lionel Scaloni: “South American qualifiers is the most difficult in the world. Whoever thinks otherwise, I invite them to debate and prove it to me.” pic.twitter.com/dxBJLq7Nd5
— All About Argentina 🛎🇦🇷 (@AlbicelesteTalk) September 8, 2023
Over the past, questions have been raised over the differences in the qualities of South American and European soccer. PSG star Kylian Mbappe claimed that the level of European soccer is superior to South America ahead of the 2022 World Cup. He also pointed out that over the last few years, South American nations have struggled to win the World Cup.
Emi Martinez on Kylian Mbappe’s comments about the quality of South American football..
🗣 “He doesn’t know enough about football. He never played in South America. When you don’t have this experience, it may be better not to talk about it.” pic.twitter.com/IVzHy47fEw
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) December 18, 2022
Mbappe, however, faced much criticism for his remarks. Former Brazil coach Tite and Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez strongly condemned the French superstar for his remarks. Moreover, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez also mocked Mbappe after winning the 2022 World Cup. Ironically, Mbappe’s France was defeated in the final by Argentina, a South American country.