Skip to main content

Messi can't do it all - Tabarez defends Barca star as Argentina threaten to miss World Cup

Oscar Tabarez does not believe failure to qualify for the World Cup would leave a stain on Lionel Messi's illustrious career as the Uruguay boss insisted the five-time Ballon d'Or winner cannot do it all for Argentina.

Messi and Argentina were runners-up at the 2014 World Cup but the South American giants are in real danger of missing out on next year's showpiece tournament in Russia.

A scoreless draw at home to Peru left Argentina sixth in the CONMEBOL standings and adrift of the inter-confederation qualifying position with one qualifier remaining against Ecuador on Tuesday.

Messi hit the post in the stalemate in Buenos Aires last week, while he also created opportunities for team-mates Dario Benedetto, Emiliano Rigoni and Marcus Acuna, and Uruguay head coach Tabarez said the Barcelona star needs support if two-time champions Argentina are to qualify for a 12th successive World Cup.

"I don't see it as a stain and it shouldn't be like that," Tabarez said when asked if missing out on the World Cup would be a stain on Messi's career.

"There are a lot of great players in football's history that weren't world champions and they're not stained by that, at least for me.

"Besides that, Messi is still playing, you can't tell what will happen.

"Argentina are having problems to qualify but if they do, they'll be favourites to win the World Cup.

"He's a huge player but he can't do it all, this is a team sport."

"He plays with praise regarding him being the best, but while taking all the fault when things don't go well, even when he's not responsible," added Tabarez, whose Uruguay are second in the table with 28 points heading into their hosting of Bolivia.

"Football is not easy and not always the best players can handle everything. The statistics are meant to be interpreted but if you take a look at Messi's statistics, during his whole career, they're impressive, you can't believe it.

"And that's enough to enter football's history. But sometimes it is not enough... In that history, it has either to be champion of the World Cup or he's not worthy and I don't agree with that."