Brazilian soccer phenom Neymar has come to the defense of his Barcelona teammate and best friend Lionel Messi, who has been criticized heavily in the Argentine media for his performance in the Copa America.
“Everyone we were with during the whole year, and our fans know that Leo is the best, he is number one,” Neymar told reporter Joaquim Piera of Sport on Thursday.
At the Copa America, which matched up several top South American teams in a World Cup-style tournament, Messi didn’t come out on top. Argentina made it to the final on Saturday, but ultimately lost to Chile on penalties. And Messi, himself, scored just one goal in the tournament, which caused even his own grandfather to question his dedication to the national team.
Some of him was there,” Antonio Cuccitini told Radio Casilda (via Goal.com) this week. “Triumphs are the greatest things there are. But the last three games he was bad. He was lazy.”
Messi, however, might be more upset about his side’s loss than anyone.
“There’s nothing more painful in soccer than losing a final,” he wrote on Facebook on Monday. “But I can’t spend anymore time without saying thank you to everyone who has always supported us and continued to during the tough moments.”
Messi will soon get the full support of his friend Neymar in person when the two reunite to compete for the International Champions Cup. Barcelona will face off against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl on July 21; against Manchester United at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on July 25; against Premier League champions Chelsea at FedEx Field near Washington on July 28; and against Fiorentina in Florence, Italy, on Aug. 2.
Senior Lecturer, TE