Argentina is enjoying Lionel Messi’s “Barcelona version” in the Copa America, ahead of his 150th appearance for Argentina.
Messi, 34, has yet to achieve great success with Argentina, despite winning Olympic gold in 2008.
Argentina has advanced to the semi-finals of the competition, where it will face Colombia on Tuesday at the Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, thanks to Messi’s four goals and four assists.
He scored one goal and added two assists in Argentina’s 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Ecuador on Saturday. It was Messi’s first game since his Barcelona contract had expired.
Messi has a total of 149 appearances for Argentina. His vision on the pitch, the quality of his passes, and two goals from free kicks have all been compared to his greatest days with Barcelona in the last five games.
“We have to relax and worry about Colombia right now; they are a tough squad with excellent, experienced players up front, good defenders, and quick counterattackers,” Messi stated. “We want to take it one step at a time… and get to this final we so desperately want.”
Nine Argentina coaches have attempted — some more successfully than others — to imitate the Barcelona model that saw Messi excel and become the Catalan club’s all-time leading scorer.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni stated, “We’re talking about the best player ever.” “The best thing that could happen to us football fans is that he continues to play until… until he is no longer able to do so, and we enjoy it.” There’s nothing else. When he plays, even his opponents like it.”
Messi’s teammates have contributed to Argentina’s revival, which hasn’t won the Copa America since 1993. Messi gets along well with Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, and Giovani Lo Celso, all of whom are younger and more dynamic midfielders than Messi. Lautaro Martnez, the striker, is always putting pressure on defenders and creating opportunities for Messi to make the difference in the final third of the field.
Argentina — and Messi as captain — lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, and Messi appears to be determined to be there.
On Monday, defending champion Brazil will face Peru in the other semi-final.