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A number of high-profile friendlies took place this week in preparation for this summer's 2018 FIFA World Cup. Among the top billings was Argentina versus Spain, the fourth best versus the 6th best worldwide, but without one Argentinian superstar, Lionel messi. Messi sat out due to a hamstring injury and watched from the stands.

The loss

During this much-anticipated mid-season international break, Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi failed to appear due to injury, letting his team lose to a solid Spanish side. Spain absolutely romped Los Gauchos at home, beating them 6-1 by the end of the night. It wasn't even close. Spain went up by two goals before the 30 minute mark and bagged another four after the break.

Spanish midfielder, Isco, was able to bag his first professional hat trick and one yellow card in this not-so-friendly match, where both sides started to play for their man instead of the ball. The night ended with a total of four yellows, a Diego Costa injury, and a humiliating plane ride home.

The Spanish side showed they are a real team here, able to work together without any individual carrying the rest on their back, but Argentina let slip that they've got some work to do before this summer. If the Argentinian side hopes to accomplish anything in the coming World Cup then they will need to unify their first team. Pedro Pablo Pasculli ('86 World Cup winner) said at a press conference last night: "Argentina today depend on Messi ten times more than we depended on Maradona on 1986.” Which is a harsh accusation to make, considering Maradona is the only player from the '86 team I can name without having them tweet shade.

The boss

So what happened with Messi? Well, a hamstring injury he received during practice kept him off the pitch. He was watching from the stands up until they conceded the sixth goal, when he reportedly walked out. It's not all bad news for the legend, though. His team's inability to produce results without him has absolutely secured his spot on the team for the next generation. Even though he plays among the likes of Higuain and Javier Mascherano, the five-time Ballon D'or winner dwarfs the other stars with his endless ability to produce goals and provide assists. But if Messi is to bring the World Cup back to Argentina he has to have ten other players to help get him there.

A World Cup win is arguably the one possible trophy he could win that his main rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, likely won't ever obtain. The two are tied in the number of Ballon D'or wins at five a piece, both are absolute legends at their clubs, and they both have won almost every trophy they've ever competed for, so it's hard to say who's better. As the debate between the two heats up again, and as the 2018 Ballon D'or race accelerates, Messi can only hope that his national team gets into shape and can support him as he ascends to the highest ranks of football dominance.