The 5 international teams that Lionel Messi hasn’t won against

Lionel Messi has played 180 times for Argentina –  and has only failed to beat five of his international opponents.

That list of Messi-resistant nations is, quite frankly, weird.

England were so nearly on there, but the one and only time the Three Lions have faced Argentina since Leo’s international debut back in 2005 just happened to coincide with the little genius’s only-ever international suspension. Pah.

Only five countries, spread across three continents, have escaped Messi’s international reign of terror. Come with us as we delve into the games that thwarted the greatest to ever do it.


Back in August 2007, when Erling Haaland was just seven years old, Norway invited Argentina to Oslo for a friendly. Did them as well, didn’t they. Made them travel thousands of miles just to beat them. The architect of the South Americans’ downfall?

John Alieu Carew.

The big man bagged a brace (penalty and a header — classic). Maxi Rodriguez clawed one back for the Albiceleste, but it wasn’t enough, and Messi, playing at the tip of a diamond midfield, sampled the bitter taste of international defeat. 


Two words: Shinji Okazaki.

That’s all you need to know, really. Leicester City’s hardworking hero was still at Shimizu Pulse in his native Japan in 2010, when the Samurai Blue took on Argentina in a friendly at the Saitama Stadium.

He’d move to Stuttgart the following year but, first, he was going to etch a dark mark on Leo Messi’s international career.

Okazaki netted in the 19th minute—the only goal of the game—and Leo Messi would never have his revenge. “Sayonara, you bastard.” Is what we assume Okazaki muttered to Messi under his breath at full time.

READ NEXT: The 11 teams Lionel Messi has faced & never won against in his career

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the 20 players who have made the most appearances alongside Lionel Messi?

Saudi Arabia

Our hero has had two cracks at defeating Saudi Arabia, and has never managed it. A 2020 0-0 friendly draw in Riyadh was followed by a 2-1 defeat for the Argentinians at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

You know — the World Cup Messi and Argentina eventually went on to win.

Messi captained his side and scored their only goal of the game, but it wasn’t enough, and Saudi Arabia denied him victory once more. Doubt he’ll mind too much, to be honest, considering what transpired at that tournament.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to win the Champions League & World Cup?


A 2014 goalless draw in Romania in the two nations’ only meeting of the Messi era. Nothing to report here, apart from the fact Romania had a left-back by the name of ‘Rat’ playing for them.

Squeak, squeak, nibble, nibble, next.


World Cup 2018 was very much Iceland’s tournament, in a lot of ways. It was the first time the Volcanomen (we’ve made that name up) had ever qualified for the tournament, and their only World Cup point to date would come against Leo Messi’s Argentina.

Backed by their thunderclapping fans, a goal from Alfred Finbogasson cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s opener almost immediately after the Manchester City legend had struck. Messi had a penalty saved by Iceland keeper Halldorsson in the 64th minute.

Only got himself to blame for this one, our Leo. Listen, these things happen.