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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

Lionel Messi slams 'shameful' Copa America pitches

While recognising that he has been far from his best in Brazil, the Barcelona star believes the grounds-keeping has also been sub-par.

Lionel Messi pictured competing in the Copa America.
Lionel Messi pictured competing in the Copa America.

ARGENTINA CAPTAIN LIONEL Messi took aim at the state of the pitches at the 2019 Copa America after helping his team through to a semi-final clash with Brazil. 

Goals from Lautaro Martinez and Giovani Lo Celso saw the Albiceleste soar past Venezuela in a 2-0 victory on Friday in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. 

Messi, however, once more failed to reproduce his best form, with a penalty against Paraguay his only goal in four matches so far in the tournament. 

Leo recognises that he has been far from his strongest; although according to the Barcelona star the Copa’s groundsmen are also at fault. 

“I am not having my best Copa America,” he told reporters at the final whistle in Rio. 

“In truth, the pitches are shameful. It is hard to control the ball and carry it. 

“The ball looked like a rabbit, it goes all over the place with this pitch. All we can do is adapt.

“The pitches are awful. That doesn’t help keep possession, you need a second longer, it bounces poorly, you cannot lead. 

“But we played a complete game and we were able to win.”

Martinez, who with two goals is Argentina’s top scorer to date in the Copa, added that the Albiceleste will start as underdogs against Brazil – but he is relishing the challenge. 

“We have our own players,” he pointed out. 

We know it will be difficult because they are the home side and they will be in front of their fans.

“We are showing that we give our all in every game. Luckily things are going well.”

Argentina meet Brazil in Belo Horizonte’s Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday, their first meeting in a major finals since the 2007 Copa America final.

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