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Messi grabbed the throat of a Uruguayan player, but Leo's team still suffered a defeat

In the 2026 World Cup qualification, Argentina suffered its first loss.

In the 5th round of the qualifying cycle for the 2026 World Cup in South America, the Argentine national team hosted Uruguay at the Bombonera in Buenos Aires. It goes without saying how intense such confrontations can be. The world champions were unbeaten, so Marcelo Bielsa's team did not need any additional motivation. The game was so heated that even the usually calm captain, Lionel Messi, got involved in one of the numerous clashes.

It all began with another celebration, which Argentina experiences throughout the calendar year. They honored the eighth Ballon d'Or of the extraterrestrial, not forgetting goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who was awarded the Lev Yashin Prize. However, as soon as the game started, all this splendor was washed away by a stream of football passion.

Uruguay, determined to give the hosts a tough fight, brought down Leo in their very first attack, thus setting the necessary rhythm for the match. The game's tension did not let up for a moment, almost until the very end. Argentina's severe first mistake led to Uruguay's central defender and Barcelona player Ronald Araujo scoring at the end of the first half. Considering how Bielsa's teams know how to squeeze the maximum out of their minimal advantage, the chances for "Albiceleste" were very few.

Midway through the first half, every foul by one of the teams led to a minor scuffle. In one of these altercations, Argentina's usually calm and wise captain got involved. In a fit of anger, Messi grabbed the neck of Uruguayan defender Matias Olivera. After the game, Leo explained that the visitors did not respect the elders properly and used foul language towards his teammates. By the end of the first half, the main referee could have shown at least one red card for such unsportsmanlike behavior to players from both teams. Still, he managed to contain his passions and avoided disciplinary sanctions.

"Young people need to learn to respect their elders. Such matches are always tough, but they are played with great respect. They need to learn a little," Messi said about Uruguayan De Paul's indecent gesture.

The second nail in the coffin of the Argentine team looked symbolic. Messi was dribbling with the ball at the entrance to the visitors' penalty area a few minutes before the end of regular time. The reactive Uruguayans quickly neutralized him and started their counterattack, which logically ended with a precise shot by Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez. After four impressive consecutive victories, Argentina suffered its first defeat in the qualification for the 2026 World Cup. It let Uruguay come within arm's reach.

Bielsa's charges will likely become Argentina's main rivals in the battle for first place. This is due to the storm currently brewing for the Brazilians. Not long ago, they lost (0-2) to Uruguay and Colombia (1-2), placing only seventh in the tournament table.

Published by Patrick Jane