Injured Messi, suspended Scaloni to miss Argentina’s final Copa America group game

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

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

The striker revealed his injury after Tuesday’s win over Chile, explaining his decision to play for 90 minutes despite the pain, even though he was not “100%”. But after undergoing tests, the Albiceleste technical staff decided to put him on the bench.

“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 have 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 game, my adductor became hard. I didn’t feel any puncture or tear, but I had difficulty moving freely.”

He will be monitored daily and his return is expected for the round of 16, with Argentina already qualified for the next stage of the competition.

Argentina coach Scaloni will also miss the game against Peru, having been suspended by CONMEBOL for a delayed return to the pitch after half-time.

South American football’s governing body has found Argentina responsible for breaching Articles 104 and 145 of the Copa America regulations, which stipulate that teams must be present on the pitch in time for kick-off after the break.

“If the players of a team appear on the field after the time scheduled for the start or restart of the match, or disobey the instructions of the referee or match delegate, the association responsible may be sanctioned by the disciplinary bodies of CONMEBOL with a warning for a first offence and a fine in the event of a repeat offence or a repeat offence,” according to CONMEBOL.

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

“He (Scaloni) is a little bitter about the situation because we consider ourselves a decent technical staff. In these six years we have almost never had this type of sanction. But it is normal that he is bitter, he wanted to be with the team tomorrow,” Samuel added.

Chile coach Ricardo Gareca was also suspended for returning to the pitch late.

“Ricardo was on his way to the press conference when we received the official communication from CONMEBOL about the suspension of a match. He returned to the hotel and we tried to resolve the problem, that’s why we are here,” Chilean assistant coach Sergio Santín said at the pre-match press conference.

Argentina pledged to approach this match with the same focus and determination despite the absences, rotating players to observe those who did not have minutes.

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