Argentina enjoy the “Barcelona version” of Lionel Messi in the Copa America before his 150th appearance for the national team.
The 34-year-old Messi is still looking for his first major success with Argentina, without counting Olympic gold in 2008.
But with four goals and four assists in the tournament so far, Messi led Argentina to the semi-finals where he will play Colombia at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on Tuesday.
On Saturday, he scored one goal and gave Ecuador two goals in the quarterfinals with 3-0. It was Messi’s first match since his contract with Barcelona expired.
Messi played a record 149 games for Argentina. His inspired performances in the last five are compared to his best days with Barcelona, including his vision on the field, the quality of his passes and two free-kicks.
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“We have to take it easy, now think of Colombia. They are a tough team with players who are excellent, experienced, very fast forward, good defenders and fast counter-attackers,” said Messi. “We hope to go step-by-step … and be at this finale we crave.”
Nine Argentina coaches tried to repeat the same Barcelona model with Argentina that made Messi shine and became the leading scorer of the Catalan club.
“This is the best player ever we’re talking about,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said. “The best thing that can happen to our football fans is that he plays until … until the age he can do it, and we enjoy it. Nothing else. Even opponents enjoy it when he plays. ”
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His teammates played their part in the revival of Messi for Argentina, who last won the Copa America in 1993. Messi has a good understanding with Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul and Giovani Lo Celso, all younger and dynamic midfielders. Striker Lautaro Martínez is constantly pushing defenders and opening gaps for Messi to make a difference in the final third of the field.
It looks like Messi is at the July 10 final in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, the same stadium where Argentina – and Messi as captain – lost in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany.
In the other semi-final, defending champions Brazil play Peru on Monday.