Lionel Messi: ‘Argentina cannot walk to win the Copa America’

“As we are the current world champions, we can confidently declare that we are the best squad. However, that doesn’t lead us to think that we can win this Copa America by walking,” Messi said, as reported by ESPN on June 19.

Argentina, the defending champions, defeated Ecuador 1-0 and Guatemala 4-1 to set the 2024 Copa America off to a great start. Lionel Scaloni’s side is in Group A in the US competition and will play Canada on June 21, Chile on June 26, and Peru on June 30.

“The game will be balanced, and every opponent is unpredictable,” Messi stated. “Ecuador’s youth is excellent; they play with fierceness, character, and physical strength. In addition, there are other names, such as Brazil, Uruguay, and Colombia. We are aware that Argentina needs to keep up their strong performance and do even better in order to win the title.”

On June 14, 2024, at Landover Stadium in Maryland, USA, during a friendly match, Lionel Messi (10) of Argentina dribbles past two Guatemalan defenders. Image: AP

Angel di Maria’s goal in the 2021 Copa America final at the Maracana helped Argentina win their first major championship in 28 years, defeating Brazil 1-0. They have since defeated Italy 3-0 in the Intercontinental Super Cup, won the 2022 World Cup, and triumphed in five of the six World Cup qualifying matches.

Brazil, meanwhile, had a lot of questions going into the competition this year. Coach Dorival Junior is in charge of Brazil, which is missing its best player, Neymar, because of an injury. They won just two games in the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign and lost to Croatia in a penalty shootout in the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals.

Messi nevertheless values Argentina’s fiercest adversary. The 36-year-old striker remarked, “It’s unfortunate that Neymar isn’t playing, but Brazil has millions of players.” “They are a fiercely competitive and powerful squad. Brazil is a serious contender and hopes to win the Copa America, just like Argentina.”

Messi acknowledged that he has not considered retirement and that he will finish his career at Inter Miami in an interview with ESPN on June 12. However, the 36-year-old striker stated in his most recent remark that he is not concerned about the future and simply wants to enjoy the Copa America, which will be held in the US.

Striker Lionel Messi (No. 10) prepares to come on as a substitute in the second half of Argentina’s 1-0 friendly win over Ecuador in Chicago, USA on June 9. Photo: AP

“I know that there is not much longer before everything ends, therefore I treasure every moment that we have together. When it’s all over, I will definitely miss the playing days,” Messi said. “Leaving football in Europe to come to America was tough, but I adjusted fast and wanted to enjoy every day here. I feel well right now. I can take care of myself, keep working out, and play like you always do.”

Argentina is a serious contender for the 2024 Copa America title, according to Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino. However, it is unclear if Messi’s participation in this tournament will be his final one with Argentina. The 61-year-old coach remarked, “You watch Messi play and don’t feel the end is near.” “I just hope Messi continues to enjoy playing and then will decide.”

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