At the Copa America 2021, Lionel Messi was a man on a purpose. The 34-year-old, who is competing in his eighth major tournament in Argentina colors, is determined to end his well-documented international title drought.
A major international championship is conspicuously absent from Messi’s brilliant CV, despite his exceptional achievements in club football – ten La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies, to name a few (all for Barcelona).
Argentina’s captain has lost four major tournament finals, three at the Copa America (2007, 2015, 2016) and one at the FIFA World Cup (2007, 2015, 2016). (2014). Messi was so devastated by his third Copa final failure in 2016 that he announced his retirement from international football. A few months later, he reversed his decision.
Messi, though, suffered more agony after exiting the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the second round and losing in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals against arch-rivals Brazil. The 34-year-old is well aware that his chances of winning an elusive international crown are dwindling.
Lionel Messi has scored four goals and supplied five assists in the Copa America 2021, leading Argentina to a fairytale final against Brazil. The 34-year-old has already passed a few milestones in the process, and he could pass a few more in the title match against the Selecao.
All Ecuador players were defending Messi's freekick and he still scored.— Barça Worldwide (@BarcaWorldwide) July 4, 2021
Just too good! pic.twitter.com/brbHd6jnGZ
On that note, let’s have a look at five milestones Messi has already achieved and could achieve at the Copa America 2021.
#5 Lionel Messi has broken the record for most assists in a single edition of the Copa America
Even at the age of 34, Lionel Messi has produced performances at the 2021 Copa America that bely his age.
In addition to scoring four goals, the Albiceleste captain has conjured scoring opportunities aplenty for teammates. With his fifth assist of the tournament coming in Argentina’s penalty-shootout win over Colombia, Messi now has the most assists in a single edition of the Copa.
Messi has the most goals (4), most assists (5), most dribbles completed (33), most shots on target (11), most chances created (20) and most accurate final 3rd passes (102) in Copa America 2021.— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) July 7, 2021
— via @BarcaStat pic.twitter.com/nIx4so5oFL
Lionel Messi means business at Copa America 2021 and would need some stopping. Brazil have been suitably warned.
#4 First Argentina player to feature in six Copa America tournaments
By featuring in Argentina’s Copa America 2021 opener against Chile, Lionel Messi became the first player from his country to feature in six different editions of the Copa. The Albiceleste drew the game 1-1, thanks to an assist from their captain.
In the process, the 34-year-old broke a tie with his compatriot Javier Mascherano, who appeared in five different Copa America tournaments.
Messi made his Copa America debut in 2007, when Argentina endured a 3-0 loss to Brazil in the final. Four years later, the Albiceleste lost in a penalty shootout to Uruguay in the quarter-finals, a tournament they hosted.
In 2015, Messi reached his second Copa final in three appearances, but Argentina lost on penalties to first-time winners Chile in the summit clash. A year later, at the 100th edition of the Copa, which was staged in the USA, the Albiceleste endured more shootout heartbreak, once again losing to Chile on penalties in the final.
Three years later, Lionel Messi’s Argentina fell in the semi-final to eventual winners Brazil in 2019.