Copa América: Lionel Messi starts in quarterfinal for Argentina

Lionel Messi was named in the starting lineup for Argentina‘s Copa América quarterfinal against Ecuador at NRG Stadium in Houston on Thursday after missing their final group game with a right leg injury.

Messi sustained the injury in their Group A win over Chile — Argentina’s second match of the tournament. His status was described as “day to day” before returning to training earlier this week, with head coach Lionel Scaloni saying on Wednesday that whether or not Messi played depended on how he trained the night before the match.

“We will train in a couple hours, and then we will decide,” Scaloni said in a news conference before practice. “One more day is always better, yesterday we had good sensations and today we will decide. Based on today’s answer [In training], we will decide if Messi plays.”

Lautaro Martínez and Julián Álvarez previously played together when the team faced Ecuador in a pre-Copa America friendly on June 9, leading the way in a 1-0 win as Messi watched from the bench.

Argentina finished top of Group A, winning all three of their games without conceding a goal.

The winner of Thursday’s match will advance to the semifinal at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 9.