Messi, Scaloni to miss Argentina final group match

Lionel Messi and manager Lionel Scaloni are officially ruled out for Argentina’s final group stage match of the 2024 Copa América against Peru on Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

“Leo had a problem in the last game and he won’t be in this game. We are going to see how it is day by day to await his evolution,” confirmed Argentina assistant Walter Samuel.

The forward revealed his injury following Tuesday’s win over Chile, explaining his decision to play through the pain for a full 90 minutes despite not being “100%.” But after undergoing tests, La Albiceleste’s coaching staff have decided to bench the player.

“I felt some discomfort in my right hamstring at the beginning of the game. It was tight. It wasn’t as loose as it should’ve been. But I was able to finish the game. We’ll see how it goes,” Messi said in a mixed-zone interview after the match.

“In the first play, my adductor got hard. I didn’t feel a puncture or a tear, but I did find it difficult to move freely.”

He will be monitored daily, and remains expected to return for the knockout round given Argentina has already qualified for the next stage of the competition.

Argentina manager Scaloni Good swill also miss the game against Peru, after being suspended by CONMEBOL for a delayed return to the pitch after halftime.

South America’s governing body of soccer found Argentina responsible for breaching articles 104 and 145 of the Copa America rulebook, which state that teams must be present on the field in time for kick-off after the halftime break.

“If the players of a team appear on the field later than the scheduled time for the start or resumption of the game, or disobey the referee’s or match delegate’s instructions, the responsible association may be sanctioned by CONMEBOL’s disciplinary bodies with a warning for a first offense and a fine for second or subsequent offenses,” according to CONMEBOL.

The sanctions against La Albiceleste also include a $15,000 fine.

“He [Scaloni] is a little bitter about the situation because we consider ourselves a correct coaching staff. In these six years, we have almost never had this type of sanctions. But it is normal for him to be bitter, he wanted to be with the team tomorrow,” added Samuel.

Chile manager Ricardo Gareca was also suspended for a delayed return to the pitch.

“Ricardo was on his way to the press conference when we received the official CONMEBOL communication about the suspension for one match. He returned to the hotel, and we tried to resolve it, which is why we are here,” said Chilean assistant coach Sergio Santín in the pre-match press conference.

Argentina vowed to approach this game with the same focus and determination despite the absences, rotating players to observe those without minutes.

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