Lionel Messi: Copa America shoot-out footage proves his passion for his country


Argentina have booked themselves a showdown with arch-rivals Brazil in Saturday's Copa America final.

Lionel Scaloni's men advanced to this weekend's showpiece occasion by defeating Columbia 3-2 on penalties on Tuesday evening.

Spot kicks were required after the two teams played out an ill-tempered 1-1 draw over 90 minutes. Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was the hero for the Albiceleste in the shoot-out, denying Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona to see his country advance.

The result means that Argentina captain Lionel Messi will play in the fourth Copa America final of his career. To date, however, the 34-year-old superstar is 0-3 in final appearances at the tournament.

With his nation not having won a major competition since they landed the Copa America in 1993, Messi is desperate is add some international silverware to his already sparkling legacy.

Messi played a key role in Argentina's early goal in the semi-final, setting up Lautaro Martinez to break the deadlock. His general performance was outstanding, although not enough to get his team over the line in normal time, thanks to Luis Díaz’s equaliser for Columbia.

It was in the shoot-out, though, that Messi's passion for his country really came to the fore.

A viral video posted by Twitter user @MessiMX10i_ showed footage from a camera that was fixed on Argentina's record goalscorer during penalties - and is clear to see throughout that the result means a great deal to him.

Before the shoot-out even begins, Messi looks to be feeling the pressure of the occasion. Despite this, he confidently strides up to convert his country's initial penalty. He then marches up to his goalkeeper Martinez, quickly embracing him in a gesture of solidarity.

When the Argentine shot-stopper manages to deny Tottenham's Sanchez moments later, Messi is jubilant, raising his arms aloft in celebration. That joy is short-lived, though, as his teammate Rodrigo De Paul skies his spot kick seconds later, leaving Messi with an anguished look on his face.


Yerry Mina then failed to score Columbia's next penalty, which Messi absolutely loved. You can read more about his reaction - and the reasons behind it here. He is so pumped up by the miss, though, that he has to be told to calm down by match officials.

As his side get closer to the finishing line over the course of the clip, their star man becomes more and more animated. When Martinez pulls off his third save of the shoot-out to punch Argentina's ticket to the final, Messi races to congratulate his goalkeeper and celebrate with the rest of the squad.

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Messi's immediate future at club level is in doubt after his Barcelona contract expired last week, with salary cap issues at Nou Camp meaning that a new deal is looking increasingly tricky to sort.

What is not in question, however, is Messi's commitment to his country. After coming close on so many occasions previously, many neutrals will be pulling for Argentina's leading man to finally get his hands on the Copa America trophy this weekend.

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