Thursday July 18, 2024

Messi heaps praise on Argentina's Copa America rivals

Published : 20 Jun 2024, 01:50

  DF News Desk
Lionel Messi of Argentina gestures during an international football invitational against Australia in Beijing, capital of China, June 15, 2023. File Photo: Xinhua.

Lionel Messi has praised the strength of South America's national teams, stressing that Argentina will need to be at their best to secure back-to-back Copa America titles in the United States, reported Xinhua.

The Albiceleste are vying to become the first team to successfully defend their Copa America title while simultaneously holding the World Cup trophy.

"Today, we can say that we are the best because we are the world champions," Messi said in an interview broadcast on Argentine television on Tuesday.

"But that does not make us believe that we are going to win this Copa America. It is going to be very close and all the teams are difficult."

Argentina will meet Canada in the opening match of the world's oldest continental football competition in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday before also facing Chile and Peru in the group stage.

Messi singled out Ecuador as a possible dark horse to win the tournament while also praising Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil.

"Ecuador has a generation of very good players who are intense, physically strong and have a clear plan," the 36-year-old Inter Miami forward said.

"Then there's Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil. Neymar has had a tough year and it's a shame he won't be here [because of a knee injury]. But Brazil always produces players that are able to step up. Brazil is like Argentina: they will also be one of the favorites."