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June 12, 2019

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Hopeful Messi keen to end country’s title drought

Lionel Messi heads into the Copa America this weekend with a desperate need to end more than a decade of hurt with Argentina.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has one of the most impressive trophy hauls in football history but there is a glaring void when it comes to national team accolades.

Four Champions League crowns and 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona are not matched by Argentina success. And the 31-year-old is running out of time to rectify that anomaly.

“I want to end my career having won something with the national team, or at least try to do so as many times as possible,” he said.

Four finals played with Argentina, four defeats, including the last two Copa finals on penalties against Chile. But the most painful was the 2014 World Cup final to Germany at the iconic Maracana, where Messi will hope to return on July 7 for the Copa title decider.

That Germany defeat began a run of losing finals in three successive years and after the last of those, a bitterly disappointed Messi announced his international retirement.

His retirement only lasted six weeks and it was his hat-trick in Argentina’s final qualifier that secured a 3-1 win in Ecuador that sent the team to the World Cup in Russia last year. But, as so many times before, Messi was unable to recapture his Barca form and they were sent home after a 4-3 second round defeat to eventual winners France.

“We’re going (to the Copa America) with the same hope and desire as ever. Argentina is going through a process of change with young and new lads,” said Messi who revealed his son Thiago loves it when he plays for the national team. “For most of them it’s their first official tournament, but that won’t stop Argentina trying to win the competition.

“It’s been a long time since Argentina won it and we all want to celebrate again, us and the fans want a title.”


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