PORTO ALEGRE, Jun 24 : Argentina captain Lionel Messi criticized the state of Brazil's Copa America pitches after his team secured a berth in the competition's knockout phase with a 2-0 win over Qatar on Sunday.
The uneven and patchy playing surfaces have drawn complaints from a number of players and officials, including Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez. "All of the pitches that we've played on have been very bad," Messi told reporters after Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero netted in each half at Arena do Gremio. "I think it was a shame the condition of the pitch, considering this is just the first game here," he told a news conference.
Messi's best scoring chance came in the 72nd minute when he sent a shot flying into the stands while unmarked from 10 yards. "It's very difficult to play [well] when the pitch is like that. You always have to stop the ball," the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said.
The result set up a quarterfinal berth for Argentina against Venezuela at Rio's Maracana stadium on Friday. Messi said the Albiceleste are now feeling more confident after securing just one point from two matches prior to Sunday's fixture."We needed a game like that for everyone's peace of mind, for our confidence and to make sure we made it to the most important stage of the tournament," he said.
Earlier, Argentina head coach Scaloni was unhappy with the pitch on which his side slumped to a disappointing defeat from Columbia. "I don't want to know how this pitch would be after two or three games. This could've been a lot better for a first game, for these kinds of players. I think it is a shame,” Scaloni had said just after the defeat.