Messi bemoans scoring difficulties at Copa America

Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:43am EDT
 
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CONCEPCION, Chile (Reuters) - World Cup runners-up Argentina came to the Copa America in Chile as favorites and were expected to put plenty of goals past their opponents.

Instead they are the lowest scoring team to reach the semi-finals in which they clash with Paraguay in the southern city of Concepcion on Tuesday (7.30 p.m. ET).

“It’s terrible what it’s costing me to get a goal,” Lionel Messi, accustomed to breaking scoring records in Spain and Europe with Barcelona, said after Argentina beat Colombia 5-4 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in their quarter-final.

Argentina’s attacking game is improving with each match but defenses at the tournament, especially in their tougher half of the draw, have been hard, putting many men behind the ball to handle the likes of Messi and Sergio Aguero.

Aguero has scored two goals, Gonzalo Higuain one and Messi a penalty in Argentina’s four matches. Their defense has three cleans sheets since conceding two goals in a 2-2 draw with Paraguay in their opening match.

“I don’t understand, it appears there’s a different soccer in South America,” Aguero told reporters after earning a yellow card for dissent protesting at rough treatment from the Colombians and being denied a penalty.

“The referee said ‘This is (Latin) America, kids’, yet we’re from here,” the Manchester City striker added, commenting on something Mexican Roberto Garcia Orozco had said in the heat of the match suggesting forwards could not expect the same protection they were used to in Europe.

Messi, who is also carrying a yellow card into the semi-final, Aguero and Brazilian Neymar, suspended after a red card against Colombia in the group stage, have had a tough time trying to break through defenses and been victims of systematic fouling to break their rhythm.

Argentina and Paraguay finished in the top two places in Group B with four goals apiece from three matches. Paraguay then added a fifth with a penalty in their 1-1 quarter-final draw with Brazil before going through 4-3 on penalties.   Continued...

 
Argentina's Lionel Messi attends a training session during the Copa America soccer tournament in Vina del Mar, Chile June 27, 2015.   REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido