Argentina have breezed through the Copa America group stage but captain Lionel Messi knows now the hard work will begin.
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After beating Bolivia 3-0 on Tuesday in Seattle, La Albiceleste scored 10 goals and conceded just once in their three Group D games.
They are flying.
Messi, 28, is looking sharp too as he didn’t play in their opener against Chile, but did score a hat trick in their second group game after jumping off the bench against Panama and came on at half time against Bolivia.
The Barcelona superstar has been eased into this tournament but speaking to Mundo Deportivo, he knows that crunch time has arrived with a quarterfinal against Venezuela in Foxborough on Saturday coming up.
“We have ended the group stage as we wanted — topping the group,” Messi said. “We won the three games well. Now another Copa starts. The difficult games are coming now.
“Venezuela are seen as an easy team, but it is not like that. Just the opposite. We know all that we are playing for. This group of players is stronger than ever. We all want to win the Copa America.”
Argentina is now the heavy favorites to win Copa America Centenario and Messi has never won a major title with his national team. Argentina hasn’t won the World Cup or Copa America since 1993 and they believe everything is place to win this title.
If they get past plucky Venezuela in the quarters, then they’ll face either the U.S. or Ecuador in the semifinals. The path for Argentina to get to the final has opened up with Brazil and Uruguay being knocked out at the group stage.
Messi knows it is his, and Argentina’s, time to shine.