Lionel Messi was on the bench, yet his teammates were accused of faking injury.
The Argentines were once again absent from the Ballon d’Or award winners’ dinner in France this year, but at least they were fighting for something. After opponents Monaco staged a play that looked like it was taping to slow down the Argentines, a TV watchdog group has reported six of the team’s players as traitors and expelled them from the club.
On Saturday, Messi and his teammates were given two-match suspensions for the behavior of those in the stands in the 18th minute of their 2-0 win over the French team. Players’ unions in Argentina and Spain had already thrown their support behind the team and Messi, saying the fans’ behavior was “unacceptable” and “disgraceful” and that supporters were not giving them enough respect in the stadium. But now Juventus has caught wind of the Argentine fans’ wrath and has no reservations about naming six more players for their suspension.
One was an Atlético Madrid player, Clement Lenglet, who posted a video on Instagram showing him walking up the stairs of the bus. The video was captioned: “I’m still here.” Two more were Atlético Madrid players – Colombian defender Óscar Álvarez and defender Alejandro Álvarez, who was also reportedly traveling.
While the traveling players may still have much to answer for in the next league game, the only Argentine of the bunch who plays on the pitch will be the normal man due to injury, Napoli’s Leandro Paredes.
Lionel Messi had more than one reason to be absent at the star-studded award banquet last month, yet no one was able to understand the small and light-skinned striker. Some wondered if Messi wouldn’t rather be anywhere but in the same place as his teammates.
The Argentines are the kings of the Jules Rimet, but they don’t even appear to be kings of the Jules Rimet League. At times, it seems their time on the field is next to none. The Argentines lead Serie A in fewest minutes played since the fall of 2012. They’ve been shut out 16 times in the league in the past three seasons. Lionel Messi has picked up 2 suspensions, 0 yellow cards, and 1 red card during this three seasons (2015-2018) while he’s playing for the team.
Later this season, fans are going to put the second, and final one to the test and hope Messi and his teammates come back.