— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) July 6, 2019
While Sunday is a day for Copa finale, Saturday was a day for third-place matches.
Always a curious fixture, third-place games usually involve two teams of varying levels of interest. Sometimes players are motivated to get that bronze medal, other times they couldn’t care less. There is, after all, a reason many tournaments don’t even bother with third-place matches.
Lionel Messi’s Copa America was scheduled to end at the conclusion of Argentina’s match against Chile on Saturday in the third-place match. Instead, it was over before halftime.
With Argentina up 2-0 after Aguero and Dybala putting their name on score sheet, Messi and Chile’s Gary Medel got into a heated shoving clash, with Messi using only his chest, and both got red cards. Medel looked to try and sneak a headbutt in, and it was a wild, tense moment that felt certain to end in a fight:
It didn’t look like Messi deserved a red for that, but maybe a yellow at most. Medel however deserved a red for going after Messi how he did, and he’s long been known as a heated player who isn’t afraid to get physical. These two teams obviously have a long history, and their games are often heated, but this was taking it to a different a level. This was Messi’s second red card for the national team and also his whole extraordinary career.
Interestingly, La Pulga’s first card was on his International debut against Hungary in 2005 when he was sent off only 44 seconds after being substituted.