Argentina coach defends Messi over poor display in Copa America tournament

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni stands with Messi despite his poor show in the ongoing Copa America tournament in Brazil. After four matches at the Copa America, the Argentina captain has only scored once, from the penalty spot and has not provided any assists, nor has he looked anything like the player who netted more goals than anyone in Europe in the last three seasons.

The Barcelona star often loses to Diego Maradona in debates over who is the country’s best player of all time due to his failure to lead his national team to lift a major trophy. This year’s Copa America tournament would have perhaps been the best moment for the 32-year-old to prove everyone wrong but it has turned out to be the worst of it all.

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For instance, in their Friday quarter-final match against Venezuela, Messi was completely lost and his usual scare wasn’t felt by the opponents. His passing was sloppy, his shots were frequently blocked and never troubled Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez, and he rarely challenged defenders as he usually does with such ease.

However, Scaloni insisted in a post-match news conference that Messi’s presence alone is important to them. “Messi’s contribution on the pitch is essential, if you could see what he gives us in the dressing room you’d think differently. I assure you it’s great to have him here,” Scaloni said.

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When further pressed on Messi’s poor form, Scaloni replied rudely brief: “All there is to say about Leo is he’s the best in the world.” But he also decried the state of the pitches in Brazi: “The pitches here are shameful, the ball is like a rabbit, it can go anywhere. The conditions are very difficult and it’s very hard to dribble properly. This cannot go on,” he said.



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