The Barcelona star’s national team may have made the semi-finals of the South American showpiece, but he admits he hasn’t had a great tournament
Lionel Messi admitted he had been below his best at the Copa America so far, but said Argentina’s progress to the semi-finals was most important.
Argentina set up a blockbuster semi-final against hosts Brazil by beating Venezuela 2-0 at the Maracana on Friday .
Messi has scored just once in Argentina’s four games, and his goal came from the penalty spot against Paraguay in the group stage.
The Barcelona star, whose team face Brazil on Tuesday, accepted he was yet to hit top form at the tournament.
“The truth is that it’s not been my best Copa America, not what I expected,” Messi said.
“There are matches that occur in this way. You cannot play a lot, it’s complicated for those of us who want to do something different, to avoid rivals.
“The important thing is that we won and we continue.
Messi started in behind the front two of Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero against Venezuela, with the Inter forward getting on the scoresheet for the second straight game.
After the win, Messi was happy with the attacking trio, while he slammed the pitches – which have been criticised throughout the Copa America – in Brazil again.
“We know it is fundamental that if we want to play the top three, we must run and help in defence,” he said.
“It is a cup match, anyone beats anyone. It is difficult to play, the pitches are bad. It is a shame that all the pitches are like this in a Copa America.”
Argentina have advanced to the semi-finals without convincing in the tournament so far.
They lost their first match in the group stage to Colombia, 2-0 and drew with Paraguay 1-1, thanks to Messi’s lone goal to date.
They secured qualification to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Asian invitees Qatar.
Despite their unsure play to date, they are now just one game away from a third straight Copa America final.
If they should beat the hosts in the semis the Albiceleste will have a chance to avenge their defeats on the last two finals.
They lost both games to Chile, in 2015 and 2016, in penalty shoot outs.