Undeterred in his record-chasing, Argentina talisman Lionel Messi prefers not to rest at the Copa America despite Argentina already having secured its place in the quarterfinals.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni kept only four players from Argentina’s starting lineup in the 1-0 win against Paraguay, with Messi being one of the few regular starters named on Sunday to play Bolivia in its final match in Group A.
The 34-year-old soccer wizard is currently tied with Javier Mascherano with a record 147 appearances for the national team and is set to take the record outright Monday at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba when he joins fellow veterans Sergio Agüero and Ángel Di María up front.
Messi has remarkably played every minute of Argentina’s matches at the tournament and is on an all-out do-or-die bust chasing his first Copa America trophy with Argentina.
“I think everything about Messi has already been said,” Scaloni said Sunday. “We are proud to have him and we are convinced he will give us more joy.”
Emiliano Martínez, who has played in every match for Argentina at the tournament so far, won’t start against Bolivia. The goalkeeper will be suspended for the quarterfinals if he gets another yellow card. Franco Armani takes his place.
Other Argentina players on the bench to avoid potential suspension include Lautaro Martínez, Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Lucas Martínez Quarta and Joaquín Correa.
Argentina leads the group with seven points, followed by Paraguay (6), Chile (5) and Uruguay (4). Bolivia is last with zero points and already out.
The top four teams in each of the two groups advance to the knockout stages.