Copa América: Opening-game win brings ‘calmness’ – Messi

Lionel Messi has stressed the importance of Argentina having started the Copa América on the right foot with a 2-0 win over Canada on Thursday in Atlanta.

Messi, who set a Copa América record by playing in his 35th match, said: “It [the win] gives you calmness because you suffer a lot when you start with a loss.

“We had not experienced it [to start a tournament with a win] before under [Argentina coach Lionel] Scaloni.”

However, bad starts have not hurt Argentina in recent years. They drew their Copa América 2021 opener with Chile but went on to win the tournament.

At the 2022 World Cup, they were famously beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia, ending a 36-game unbeaten streak, and yet went on to beat France in the final.

Argentina are now seeking their third straight major title and Messi said they must keep playing as a team.

“From the beginning, this group proved it is a team and that is how we have achieved what we have achieved,” the Inter Miami forward said. “The only path to be able to achieve it again is to continue in this manner.”

Messi, who turns 37 on Monday, was crucial to both of Argentina’s goals against Canada.

His through ball led to Julián Álvarez‘s opener, before he provided the assist for Lautaro Martínez‘s 88th-minute goal.

“We knew it was going to be difficult,” he said. “We expected a very hard and physical game. At times we find it difficult to find spaces but we need to keep at it. We have the patience to have the ball, to move it from side to side.

“The majority of our rivals play differently against us, we need to maintain control.”

Argentina are back in action on Tuesday when they take on Chile at the MetLife stadium in New Jersey.

“Now we have to play against a very competitive national team [Chile], that with the arrival of [coach Ricardo] Gareca has gained more,” Messi said.