Cuiaba (Brazil), June 28: Argentina’s Lionel Messi is expected to break the all-time appearances record when his nation faces Bolivia in the Copa America.
Messi is still hunting an elusive major medal in international colors, a fact that contrasts with his illustrious Barcelona career.
Nonetheless, as he prepares to play for Argentina for the 148th time, the 34-year-old should reflect on a remarkable body of work in which he has consistently set new benchmarks – most notably, as Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer with 73. As Argentina prepares to surpass Javier Mascherano’s appearance milestone, Stats Perform takes a look at Messi’s Argentina career in numbers. CONMEBOL’S HARD KNOCKS SCHOOL In the never-ending debate between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo followers, the Portugal superstar’s international record is occasionally used as a source of contention.
During the reigning European champions’ 2-2 draw with France at Euro 2020 last week, Ronaldo equaled Ali Daei’s all-time record of 109 goals for his country. However, Ronaldo has a number of “given” opponents in the European qualifiers that Messi does not have access to. Many of his Argentina caps have come against high-quality opponents thanks to the rigorous CONMEBOL World Cup qualification campaign.
His most appearances have occurred in South American World Cup qualifiers, where he has made 50 appearances. In comparison, he has 30 Copa appearances, 19 World Cup appearances, and 47 caps in international friendlies. BRILLIANT TREBLES, HIGH FIVES Argentina’s bitter rivals Brazil, Paraguay, and their tormentors in the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals, Chile, have faced Messi more than any other country. He’s faced them all 11 times and scored five goals against each of them. With La Paz’s sapping altitude not a concern for Messi on this occasion, he will be looking to improve on a record of three goals from nine appearances.
Three of them goals came against Brazil in a 4-3 friendly triumph at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in 2012. He has six international hat-tricks, the most notable of which was a spectacular salvo to secure a 3-1 win away to Ecuador, which almost single-handedly sent Argentina to Russia 2018. OTHER MILESTONES AND THE NIGHTMARE START Messi’s rise to the top of international football was far from certain when he made his Argentina debut from the bench against Hungary in Budapest in 2005, receiving a red card nearly immediately after going on.
On his sixth cap, Messi scored against Croatia in Basel, while his 50th cap came in the otherwise forgettable 2010 World Cup quarter-final loss to Germany in Cape Town. Cap 100 competed in the 2015 Copa America against guest entrants Jamaica, a campaign that ended in the now-familiar failure. Whether it’s 147 caps or 73 goals, it’s the number one — winning Argentina’s long-awaited first senior trophy – that motivates Messi. Bolivia will be his next opponent.