After losing three finals, the Barça superstar at long last gets to celebrate a major senior honour with his national team
Lluís Bou Morera
Leo Messi finally has his hands on the Copa America. After losing the finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016 (plus defeat in the World Cup Final in 2014) he now has a major title at international level.
His tournament MVP winning contribution was a huge factor in ending an Argentinian title drought dating all the way back to 1993. The captain and soul of the team finished the tournament as the leading goalscorer (4) and was also top for assists (5). That means he had a role in nine of the 12 goals that Argentina scored, playing every minute of the tournament and breaking the record for appearances for Argentina in the process.
It all started against Chile in the group stage and a fabulous goal from a direct free kick, although the game ended 1-1. Against both Uruguay and Paraguay, there were early goals in games that ended in 1-0 victories.
With qualification already assured, Argentina had fun against Bolivia, with Messi scoring twice and giving an assist, all before half-time. Messi was outstanding against Ecuador in the quarter finals, giving two assists and scoring one himself.
Colombia were the opposition in the semis, and that one went to penalties. Messi converted his, and Argentina went into the final against host nation Brazil. Leading 1-0, Messi had the chance to score a definitive second with moments to go, although his team would ultimately cling on the clinch the trophy.
At long last, Leo Messi has one of the winners’ medals he has most been craving – the South American continental title.