Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski shared an awkward on-field moment during the match between Argentina and Poland that was won by the La Albiceleste by a two-goal margin.
Messi, who seemed completely absorbed in the game, completely ignored Lewandowski’s attempt at an in-game handshake after the Polish striker fouled him.
However, after the match, the duo was captured sharing a brief handshake on the pitch.
Both Lewandowski and Messi share a bit of history and have battled for the top individual prizes in football. There has been an underlying current of frostiness, a rivalry partly sparked by contentious individual awards.
This was after Messi was awarded his seventh Ballon d’Or title last year. The Poland marksman was crowned 2021 FIFA Best Men’s Player in January last year.
Thereafter, Lewandowski sparked a bit of controversy and claimed that his award was worth more than Messi’s. In an interview with a Polish magazine:: “I have been thinking lately and I have come to the conclusion that the FIFA award is more important.
“Only journalists vote for the Ballon d’Or, there is no clear verification. Instead, professional football and the press vote for the FIFA award. The captains and coaches of each national team can evaluate our performances in a more realistic and objective way because they know how much each match, each record, and each injury means.
“Perhaps in the prestigious ranking, the Ballon d’Or is better positioned, but the recognition I received by winning The Best makes me proud because I know how hard I worked for many years.”
Meanwhile, despite Argentina beating Poland 2-0 on the night, Lewandowski left the field with a huge smile on his face after blowing kisses to fans and hugging teammates as Poland scraped into the knockout stages of the tournament.
As Saudi Arabia beat Mexico, Poland finished as runner-up in Group C, ahead of Mexico on goal difference, to set up a last 16 game against France on Sunday.
“You can say it’s a happy defeat,” said Lewandowski, who failed to even have a shot on target. “I’m not happy with the way we played. Of course not. We can’t be happy with the game itself.”
Poland had been thoroughly outplayed by Argentina with Lewandowski an ineffective isolated figure as his team was pegged back for the duration of the game. Argentina had 24 attempts at goal, 13 on target. Poland had three, none on target.