BARCELONA - Criticism of Lionel Messi
following Argentina's Copa America exit is "totally exaggerated"
and having decent pitches would have helped him play better, his
Barcelona team-mate Xavi said on Wednesday.
"Leo is the best footballer in the world and unfortunately
for him when things are not going well [for Argentina] criticism
is directed his way," Xavi told a news conference.
"The criticism is totally exaggerated as he had a fantastic
Copa America despite the setback of Argentina's elimination,"
the Spain playmaker added.
Argentina, who last won the Copa in 1993 and are hosting the
current tournament, were slammed in the media after falling to
Uruguay in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.
As the reigning World Player of the Year, Argentines were
looking to Messi to lead them to their first major success since
their Copa triumph in Ecuador in 1993.
Xavi said some of the pitches at the Copa were "not at all
in good condition" and the situation was "a shame for football."
"It's fundamental that the grass is in good shape," he said.
"On a pitch in bad condition everything becomes more equal,
physically, in terms of talent, technically. On a good pitch
maybe talent can shine through more."
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