Very few teams have been able to stop Lionel Messi during his amazing career.
That’s why the genius is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to ever kick a ball – he is simply capable of deciding matches in an instant, no matter what the tournament is and who the opponent is.
The Argentinian’s statistics speak for themselves, and having already conquered the World Cup, it is difficult to find any flaws in what he has achieved.
Not against all teams, however, is he that exceptional. There are those who regularly manage to neutralize him – and one of them is his next opponent in the big derby of the CONMEBOL zone.
After a disappointing loss to Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, Messi will lead Argentina against Brazil late tonight.
The match at 2:30 Bulgarian time pits the historical opponents and most successful football nations of South America against each other in a new episode of their attractive rivalry.
As always, Leo will be expected to be the leading figure for the Albiceleste, but history shows that it is against Brazil that he rarely manages to shine.
And it is in the Brazil-Argentina derby that the star is most often deprived of his typical brilliance.
Even if we take Messi out of the equation, the rivalry between these two teams is huge and markedly equal and unpredictable.
On one side are the Brazilians with their five World Cups and 9 Copa America titles.
But who is the only team to have won the Copa America more times? That’s right, Argentina, who in 2021 grabbed their 15th title with a landmark victory over Brazil.
It was Lionel Messi’s first trophy with the Gauchos men’s national team and helped him put years of trouble in the national shirt behind him.
In head-to-head matches between the opponents, supremacy is shared, with Brazil owning 43 wins in 109 matches with Argentina. The successes of the Argentines are 40.
Until that Copa America final two years ago, Brazil had the upper hand in one very important metric: winning key matches. “Seleção” triumphed over Argentina in six consecutive clashes from direct eliminations.
The 2021 final ended that streak, but even in that game, Messi was far from his best.
How did the superstar perform against Brazil?
We don’t need to convince you how impressive his stats are with Argentina: 106 goals in 125 games, a world cup, a Copa America, an Olympic gold medal, a world and junior title.
Against Brazil, his statistics are below his usual standards, although at first glance they are not that bad: 5 goals in 13 games, in which Messi has recorded 6 wins, 6 losses and one draw.
However, if we take a closer look at these goals and the matches themselves, we will see that genius suffers against this opponent.
Strange, but true: Leo has never scored against Brazil in an official match, never punished the great continental rival in world qualifiers or in any of the major tournaments, not even a victory over the Seleção in a World Cup qualifier.
Three of his goals against Brazil came in a friendly in June 2012 in the States.
The other two goals were also in controls, held in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The first explanation for Leo Messi’s difficulties in these matches is also the most logical: simply Brazil is a very strong opponent.
It is painful for the Brazilians that they have not become world champions for more than 20 years, but they really do not have weak generations, talents spring up one after another and there is always an abundance of class in their national selection.
With such quality players at every point of the pitch, Brazil have the necessary level to neutralize the opposition’s big star.
However, for the footballer himself, this was not always a sufficient explanation, and a few years ago he even saw a conspiracy in CONMEBOL in favor of Brazil.
Argentina were eliminated by their arch-rivals in the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa America and after the match, Messi made accusations of corruption and favoritism for the “cariocas”.
“They showed us a lack of respect throughout the tournament. Unfortunately, corruption and referees do not allow people to enjoy football. I think it was decided in advance that the cup would go to Brazil,” Messi said at the time, and the accusations were particularly shocking because he beginning does not allow itself any final statements.
Tonight’s upcoming match will be played at the Maracana, and before the 2022 World Cup, it was this stadium that was the site of Messi’s greatest triumph with Argentina. However, his biggest disappointment happened at the “Maracana”.
There, the Argentines lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany, and for a while it looked like it would remain the superstar’s best chance to become a world champion.
7 years later it was his turn to triumph at the Maracana when Angel Di Maria’s goal gave the Gauchos the Copa America trophy.
There are suggestions that the upcoming match could be the last for the 36-year-old veteran at this mythical stadium.
As it has already become clear, in the clash Lionel Messi will be looking for his first goal against Brazil in an official match.
Each new episode of this rivalry means a lot for both teams and for both nations, but it is unlikely to be of such great importance for the outcome of the qualifiers themselves.
Brazil has not missed the World Finals and Argentina has been a consistent part of them since 1970.
For the moment, the Argentinians lead the ranking in the CONMEBOL zone with 12 points and can rest easy, while for their opponent the situation is more worrying – Brazil did not start the qualification cycle convincingly and is in fifth position with 7 points.
The draw with Venezuela and the losses to Uruguay and Colombia were very disappointing results, although we have to bear in mind that 6 of the 10 teams in this zone qualify directly for the championship, and the seventh plays a play-off.
It is hard to imagine that the Seleção’s ranking could be threatened in any way, but the squad will be determined to prove themselves in the derby after the accumulation of negative results.
He will be determined to upset Messi again, who showed his usual calmness before the match.
“People in Brazil are very demanding about the national team, so it will be a big test for us. The matches against Brazil are always special. We just want to keep growing, keep developing and get back to winning, that’s the most important,” shared the star.
There is no doubt that success will depend on him above all, because he is more important than ever for the national team, despite his advancing age.
And if he manages to break out at the Maracana against Brazil, Messi will iron out one of the last small imperfections in his amazing career.