Lionel Messi Says Argentina 'Needed a Game Like This' After 2-0 Win over Qatar

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2019

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 23: Lionel Messi of Argentina in action during the Copa America Brazil 2019 group B match between Qatar and Argentina at Arena do Gremio on June 23, 2019 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has said Argentina's 2-0 victory over Qatar in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil will help them "gain confidence" going into the knockout rounds.

After two games of their Group B campaign, Argentina had just one point following a defeat to Colombia and draw with Paraguay.

But Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero netted against Qatar on Sunday to secure Argentina second place in their pool, meaning they advance to the quarter-finals where they will meet Venezuela.

Messi believes the victory over Qatar can help Argentina build some momentum going into the knockout rounds, per the team's official website (h/t Press Association, via MailOnline):

"We had a good match and we won, which was the most important. We needed a game like this, to gain confidence and be calm. As the games go by, the team has to grow and this match served that purpose. Now starts another Copa. Now starts all or nothing."

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Argentina have reached the final in the last two editions of the Copa America but lost on both occasions to Chile on penalties.

On the basis of their performances so far in Brazil, it would be a major achievement were they to go as far again this year.

Even in victory at Porto Alegre's Arena do Gremio on Sunday, Lionel Scaloni's side looked unconvincing.

They will still be favourites to get past Venezuela, who are ranked No. 33 in the world, 22 places below Argentina.

But given Argentina were held to a draw by No. 36-ranked Paraguay in the group stage, Venezuela could still pose a challenge.

In the knockout stages, Messi's form will be vital to Argentina's progress, but he will need help from elsewhere.

It is good news for the side that Aguero found his goalscoring touch against Qatar:

The Manchester City man enjoyed a superb 2018-19 season, and in tandem with Messi, he could cause problems for any defence in the world.

But Argentina need to find their best form fast, because if they get past Venezuela, they will likely meet hosts Brazil in the semi-finals.

They will have little chance of beating the Selecao unless they dramatically improve on their form so far in the tournament.  

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