Lionel Messi trained 'with lots of fear' due to injury ahead of Argentina vs Ecuador

Argentina captain Lionel Messi says his thigh injury saw him train “with lots of fear” in the build-up to his side’s Copa America game against Ecuador.

Messi missed Argentina’s final Copa America group match — the 2-0 win over Peru — having reported pain during their previous game against Chile.

But the 37-year-old was fit to start against Ecuador in Texas on Thursday night and played 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw.

“The truth is bad,” Messi said when asked how he had been feeling in the days leading up to the Copa America quarterfinal, “with a lot of uncertainty, with lots of fear when I was training, a lot of desire to be here and doing everything possible to be able to arrive. I was able to be here and accompany the team from within.”

During the match, though, Messi said he “felt good”. The Inter Miami forward stepped up to take his country’s first penalty in the shootout but saw his effort strike the crossbar, before heroics from Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez helped Argentina win 4-2.



Martinez the saviour after Messi’s Panenka miss – how Argentina beat Ecuador on penalties

“The truth is it was a difficult match, which was very hard to play,” Messi added. “We knew it was going to be that way because they’re a great team, a hard team who press well, who have intense, dynamic players, a bit fast and when they have the ball they do damage as well. We expected this kind of game and the important thing is (that you win).”

Martinez was once again Argentina's saviour during a shootout (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Emi Martinez was once again Argentina’s saviour during a shootout (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

On the conditions of the pitch at Houston’s NRG Stadium, Messi said: “The pitch always has an influence. It’s a reality that the pitches (at the Copa America) aren’t good.

“Now, we return to New York, where we played against Chile, which also wasn’t so good. I think the best one was the one in Miami, which was good from what you saw from the outside at least. It’s natural and that’s already different.

“Of course, it has an influence, but apart from that we had a great team in front of us who work a lot, who have great players who play very well. And that meant it was more difficult.”

Messi’s Argentina will play either Venezuela or Canada in their Copa America semi-final, which will take place at MetLife Stadium next Tuesday.



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(Top photo: Logan Riely/Getty Images)

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