After majesty foul: Messi refuses to shake hands with Lewandowski

The game between Poland and Argentina is already over, so the scene of the game is coming.

After majesty foul: Messi refuses to shake hands with Lewandowski

The game between Poland and Argentina is already over, so the scene of the game is coming. Lewandowski shakes Messi's hand apologetically after a foul - but Messi refuses to shake his hand and stares coldly into the distance. Behind it is the complicated relationship of the superstars.

It's just a small scene. Minutes before the final whistle of the dramatic World Cup match between Argentina and Poland. The score is 2-0, the game is over. Lionel Messi dribbles against Robert Lewandowski in the center circle, but the ex-Bayer puts his body in and tugs briefly on the PSG star's shirt. The referee whistles. It's not a hard foul. If there is one at all. But in the small scene there is great meaning.

The foul is an insult to majesty. At least that's Messi's gestures and facial expressions. "La Pulga" turns away from the crime scene with his arms raised and annoyed look, while Lewandowski runs on with the ball. The Pole doesn't want to believe the whistle and laughs. But then he trots to the Argentine and holds out his hand to apologetically high-five. But Messi refused to shake hands with him. Freezing. Lewandowski grabs his shoulder and speaks to him. But the playmaker is staring straight ahead.

Of course, these top athletes and alpha males have enormous ambitions. After all, this Wednesday evening is about getting into the round of 16 of the biggest tournament in the world. But Messi may also show: "You may be the new star at FC Barcelona. But the Barça legend for eternity, that's me." Unforgettable. Uncatchable. Matchless. "And should I come back to my heart club in the summer, then I'm the boss and not you."

The speculation about a sensational return of the PSG star (contract expires in the summer) to the Catalan club does not end. Lewandowski said in November "It would certainly be a dream for a striker to play with Lionel Messi". Even at the World Cup, the stars are connected even before they meet. Because it's very similar for them. Game one both messed up, in the second game both managed to redeem themselves, including Messi magic and Lewandowski's tears after his first World Cup goal ever.

The world public is following the encounter with great interest. The game offers added drama as one of the two biggest stars of European club football could be eliminated in Qatar and his World Cup career over. Of course, Messi in particular wants to finally reap the final glory at the most prestigious of all tournaments.

In the game, every duel Lewandowski lost was loudly celebrated by the Argentine fans. While Messi whirls, briefly becomes a tragic figure because he misses a penalty and is finally allowed to celebrate with his team, the Pole is completely signed off. Poland national coach Czeslaw Michniewicz formally apologized to his superstar after the game and announced that he had received too little support. Of course, that was part of the tactical plan not to jeopardize progress with a debacle. Direct duels on the pitch are rare, until the small but important scene just before the end.

"It's not Messi vs Lewandowski - it's not a tennis match, it's not a one-on-one. They're not facing each other." As much as Michniewicz tries before his Poles' game against Argentina to portray the duel as a football game between two teams fighting for a place in the round of 16 in the World Cup, everyone else doesn't give a damn. Every newspaper, every TV station, every fan in Qatar writes, reports, says very well: Lionel Messi against Robert Lewandowski.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best of them all?" asks the British "Guardian". Of course, this showdown is reinforced by the fact that the two attacking gladiators have been the best in their field for years and now the Pole has replaced Messi as Barça star striker. Does the refused handshake show that the Argentine is still suffering from his departure from the heart club?

Then there's the duel for the 2021 Ballon d'Or. Maybe that also plays a role in the non-handshake? Messi won his seventh trophy back then, but many in the football community were convinced that world player Lewandowski should have taken home the Golden Ball. The prize was suspended in 2020 due to the corona pandemic, and the Pole would probably have received it. The then Bayern striker scored 47 goals in 2020, and even 64 the year after.

Lewandowski shared he has no grudges against Messi and the Argentine even said the balloon belonged to the Pole. But then it crashes between the superstars. Messi did not vote for Lewandowski in the world footballer election in January (he still won for the second time), but for his PSG colleague Neymar. The Pole was disappointed, the Argentine replied in an interview: "I don't agree with what he said, but I didn't give it much importance. He can say whatever he wants. I don't care."

But footballers are like that too: After the final whistle at the Stadion 974, Messi and Lewandowski hug each other and whisper secret words in each other's ears. Maybe it's about the refusal to shake hands. They pat each other on the chest appreciatively, although cordiality looks different.

Regardless, Argentina is waiting for Australia with Messi as the top of the group. And Poland is actually progressing despite bankruptcy. Half fought, half "cheated". Definitely happy. But who is asking if Lewandowski only saved his World Cup show for the round of 16 against Kylian Mbappé and his French. In the next duel of the super strikers.