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Neymar puts Messi friendship ‘on the line’ for Copa America final

Neymar - Brazil, Messi - Argentina
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The former Barcelona teammates are set to battle it out for the grandest prize in South American football this weekend.

Neymar jokingly admits his friendship with Lionel Messi is “on the line” ahead of Brazil’s clash with Argentina in the Copa America final.

Brazil narrowly got over the line against Peru in the Copa America semi-finals, with Lucas Paqueta scoring the sole goal in the match at the Olympic Stadium.

The other semi-final fixture, meanwhile, couldn’t be settled even after 120 minutes of action. It was Argentina who eventually emerged victorious, beating Colombia 3-2 on penalty shootouts.

The two heavyweights of South American international football will now lock horns at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday – a clash that will see two former FC Barcelona teammates and close friends who are also two of the world’s very best players go against each other.

“Messi is, as I’ve always said, the best player I’ve ever seen play and he’s a great friend, but now we’re in a final, we’re rivals,” Neymar told reporters, per AS.

“I want to win and I really want to win this title, which would be my first Copa America.

“Messi has been looking for his first title with the national team for many years, and every time we [Brazil] are not present at the tournament, I cheered for him. That’s what I’ve been cheering for in the 2014 World Cup final, when he faced Germany.

“Now Brazil is in the dispute, so our friendship is on the line. The respect between us is still great but only one can win.

“When you’re friends with someone, it’s hard to forget the friendship you have – but for example when you play video games with a friend, you want to beat him anyway. It’ll be the same thing on Saturday.”