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Copa America 2024: Scaloni limits Messi in Argentina friendly

by Noe
Copa America 2024: Scaloni limits Messi in Argentina friendly

Manager Lionel Scaloni limited Lionel Messi’s playing time in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Ecuador in a friendly before Copa America 2024.

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SCALONI LIMITS MESSI MINUTES IN ARGENTINA WIN OVER ECUADOR

Head coach Scaloni limited Messi’s minutes in the second half in Argentina’s victory over Ecuador on Sunday night.

The Inter Miami star in Major League Soccer (MLS) was fielded by Scaloni only in the 56th minute.

Furthermore, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner played in the international stage for only the first time in six months.

Messi is still recovering from a right hamstring injury.

The injury kept him from playing in Argentina’s Copa warmup matches against El Salvador and Costa Rica in March.

“Sometimes there is no need to risk it, not only with Leo. It’s about taking care of them so that they arrive in optimal conditions,” Scaloni said.

DI MARIA GOAL LIFTS ARGENTINA TO WIN

Scaloni will continue to rely on veteran Angel Di Maria, whose shot proved to be the lone goal of the match for Argentina.

Di Maria received a reverse pass from Christian Romero before flicking the ball into the net in the 40th minute.

Interestingly, it was Messi who replaced Di Maria in the second half for the former’s first stint of the match.

“It helps to play against a rival like that, especially because Ecuador plays at a higher level, they make it difficult for anyone,” Scaloni said.

“And we needed to get together, compete, add minutes, and feel the sensation of putting on the shirt before a Cup that is going to be difficult,” he added.

DI MARIA READY FOR ‘COMPLICATED’ COPA AMERICA 2024

Di Maria has expressed his readiness to a Copa America 2024 that “will be complicated.”

“We know Copa America will be complicated, you could see it today in the game. Players get into it, and there will be difficult games,” he told TyC Sports.

“I think today was a good game to demonstrate who we are. I think we’re on a good path,” he added.

The goal marked Di Maria’s second straight in an international match.

He also scored against Costa Rica on March 26.

The 36-year-old midfielder is tied with Gonzalo Higuain for the fifth-most goals in Argentina’s history.

Di Maria is also four goals behind Diego Maradona at No.4 on the list.

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