Messi warns Argentina ahead of Copa America final

2021-07-08 11:40:05 1515

Lionel Messi has warned Argentina they will be in for a tough battle when they take on fierce rivals Brazil in the 2021 Copa America final this weekend.

Argentina have not lifted a major piece of silverware since 1993, but they are priced at 11/8 to end that wait on Saturday night when they take on the tournament hosts at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

La Albiceleste are yet to taste defeat at this year's tournament, but they were made to work hard for a place in the final, overcoming Colombia 3-2 on penalties after the semi-final clash between the two sides had ended 1-1.

Captain Messi scored Argentina's opening penalty during the shootout and the Barcelona star, who is now out of contract with his club, is also the leading marksman in the competition with four goals to his name.

The 34-year-old has won every trophy available to him at club level, but he has never lifted a major piece of silverware with Argentina, losing three times in the Copa America final in 2007, 2015 and 2016.

The first of those defeats came against Brazil 14 years ago and Messi has warned his team-mates that they will have to be at their very best if they are to overcome the hosts, who will be spearheaded by his former Barcelona colleague Neymar.

"Brazil, with Neymar, are going to be very difficult," Messi was quoted as saying by Sport. "We know his potential, what he does individually."

Messi also acknowledged his side had to suffer against Colombia and he was quick to praise goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who saved three penalties during the shootout.

"It was very difficult but we deserved it because we went looking for it," the six-time Ballon d'Or winner added.

"At times it was difficult. But we have Emi who is a phenomenon. We are confident in him. We achieved the first goal of playing every match and now we are going for the final."