After Argentina’s victory in the Copa America, Lionel Scaloni revealed Lionel Messi didn’t play the final in peak condition.
Lionel Messi was not ‘fully fit’ for the Copa America between Argentina and Brazil, says manager Lionel Scaloni.
The 34-year-old was the star of the show prior to the final itself, winning four Man of the Match awards, to help Argentina book a showdown with old rivals Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
For the final, however, Messi wasn’t quite his usual self. The Brazil team worked hard to restrict his movements, although he still got a few shots in and kept the ball moving. But in the end, Angel Di Maria’s first-half goal was enough to seal Argentina a 1-0 win and a first major international title for the captain.
“If you knew the way that he played in the Copa America you would love him even more,” said Scaloni as per The Athletic.
“You can never do without a player like him, even when he is not fully fit like in this game and the previous one.
“In the end he did not throw in the towel, and he succeeded. We are talking about the best footballer of all time and everyone knew how important it was for him to win a title with the national team.
Messi proved his importance for Scaloni yet again by supplying four goals and five assists in seven appearances in the Copa America.
“It is different than the usual coach-player relationship. It is closer,” the Argentina boss said on his relationship with Messi.
“We greet each other, we hug each other, and I am eternally grateful to him and his teammates.”
Argentina have now moved level with Uruguay for a record of 15 Copa America titles after claiming their first trophy since 1993.