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As Lionel Messi Eyes Another Record, Can the Argentine Win His First Copa America?

On Tuesday, Argentina sealed their spot in the quarterfinals of the Copa America 2021 with some help from their captain Lionel Messi.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was thinking of resting Messi for the crucial game, but eventually decided against it – and it's a good job he did because the Barcelona superstar was the key man in Argentina's 1-0 triumph against Paraguay. Not only did Argentina advance to the quarterfinals but Messi also equalled a long-standing national record as he joined Javier Mascherano to become the country’s most capped player.

With Messi set to break Mascherano's record in the next game, can the 33-year-old finally win the Copa America?

He's won a record 34 trophies in a decorated career with Barcelona, the club he joined as a 13-year-old before making his debut for the first team aged 17 in October 2004. His wins include ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, and four UEFA Champions League titles.

Widely regarded as the finest striker of his generation alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi has records for most goals (474), most hat-tricks (36), and most assists (192) in the La Liga.

He also holds the record for most hat-tricks (8) in the Champions League. But winning the Copa title for Argentina remains one of his biggest goals.

"I am always available to my national team.

My biggest dream is to win a title with this shirt," Messi told local media in Rio de Janeiro. "I was very close many times. It didn't happen, but I will keep trying. I will always fight for this dream."

Former Indian footballer Abdul Khalique told Sputnik on Wednesday, "Even though Argentina has progressed through to the quarterfinals, they haven't looked really sharp in the field. I would say Messi and his boys have a 50-50 chance of winning the tournament, because teams like Chile and Brazil have both the ability and the game to not only challenge Argentina, but beat them too."

Former India international Mehtab Hossain agreed with Khalique's assessment: "Argentina are too dependent on Messi to deliver the results for them."

"The biggest problem Messi faces is the lack of support from his Argentine colleagues. He never gets the kind of support Kylian Mbappe gets in the French team. While the French midfielders are creating a number of opportunities for Mbappe and Benzema up front, Messi is not being helped by his teammates," Hossain told Sputnik on Wednesday.

During his 15-year international career, Messi has not been able to lead his side to victory in an international tournament.

He came extremely close to winning the World Cup in 2014 when Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in extra-time.

Messi also suffered setbacks in consecutive Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016 – on both occasions Chile who broke his dream.

Can he drag Argentina all the way to victory this time? 

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