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SPORTS | 14-06-2021 14:20

'It's time to strike' – Messi issues rallying call ahead of Copa América

Albiceleste captain Lionel Messi issues rallying call to his teammates ahead of the national team's first game in this year's Copa América.

Albiceleste captain Lionel Messi has issued a rallying call to his Argentina teammates ahead of the national team's first game in this year's Copa América, declaring: "it's time to strike."

Messi – a man who normally lets his football do the talking for him – said he is eager to win a trophy with his country, following years of frustration. As well as failing at the last hurdle of the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil against Germany, the Barcelona star has lost three Copa América finals with Argentina, in 2007, 2015 and 2016.

Speaking on the eve of Argentina's first match against Chile on Monday, Messi said it is "his dream" to win something in the light-blue-and-white stripes.

"I am always available to try to be part of the national team and to give my best because my greatest dream is to get a title with the national team," said the veteran, who will turn 34 on June 24, in the middle of the tournament. 

"If the coach in charge feels that I can contribute things in the group, I will be there. I was lucky to win everything at club level and it would be very nice to be able to achieve it with the national team," he added.

Messi referenced the renewal that has taken place, with a number of the old guard making way for Argentina's next generation of stars. 

“Although we have brought in new faces, we have been playing together as a team for a while and the team's playing style is pretty clear,” Messi told reporters.

“That is why it is time to strike in this Copa. We know it will be a special, different Copa, because of everything that is going on in the world, but we are ready to compete.”

Messi said it would be "important" to beat Chile, in order to have "peace of mind" for the remaining group-stage matches. 

"It is important to start with the three points, it gives you peace of mind for what is coming. We know it will be difficult, we will play against Chile again, we know each other a lot and it is a tough opponent that we are going to meet," he continued.

“The national team has never depended solely on me. We have always tried to put together a strong team to reach our goals. Little by little we have become stronger as a team. We have been working for a while with lots of the same players and the same ideas."

Argentina drew 1-1 with Chile in a World Cup 2022 qualifier just over a week ago. As well as facing the side again in Monday's opener, the Albiceleste will also face three other sides in Group A: Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.

– TIMES/AF{

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