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Messi downplays Argentina's Copa title chances

While horse riding wasn't involved, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero took to the polo pitch to train alongside Argentine star Adolfo Cambiaso.
Ale Moreno respects Lionel Messi for sticking with the national side, even with the intense criticism he faces from Argentinian fans.

Lionel Messi has downplayed Argentina's chances of winning the Copa America in Brazil.

Argentina lost the final to Chile in the last two editions of the competition but Messi insisted the team shouldn't be considered one of the favorites this time as the squad has plenty of young players entering their first major international tournament.

"We are not candidates like other times," Messi told TV channel TyC Sports on Wednesday. "We will go with the same dreams and excitement as always, but the reality is that Argentina is going through a process of change."

- Catch all Copa America games on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
- When is the Copa America?
- Full Copa America fixtures schedule

Argentina has not won an international title since the 1993 Copa America. It will face Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar in Group B of this tournament, which will be played between June 14-July 7 in Brazil.

Messi's club season at Barcelona ended with the La Liga title, but they crashed out in memorable fashion in the Champions League semifinals to eventual titlists Liverpool. 

On his health, Messi said he was "more tired and frustrated in the head than with the physical aspect, more than anything due to the Champions elimination. It's been the fewest minutes I've played in the last years, I feel fine."

Fellow teammate Leandro Paredes told ESPN Argentina that he is hopeful to help Messi break the country's title drought. 

"He has always been our leader," the Paris Saint-Germain playmaker said of Messi. "Along with youth in this squad we have experience, we can have a good Copa America."

Messi's leadership with the national team have at times been questioned, but goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin said the Barcelona star's qualities are seen on the pitch.

"There are many forms of leadership, we see it on the pitch," Marchesin said. "Messi is the soul of the squad, and we are going to enjoy having him with us."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. 

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