Lionel Messi Comments on 2016 Copa America, Stephen Curry and More – Bleacher Report

5 months ago Comments Off on Lionel Messi Comments on 2016 Copa America, Stephen Curry and More – Bleacher Report

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is focused on ending Argentina’s major trophy drought in Copa America Centenario, which is being held in the United States next month, but he’s also got another goal while visiting the country: meet Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated relayed some first-person commentary from perhaps the world’s biggest sports star, who’s “fascinated” by the way Americans live. He’s excited the country and its “incredible” stadiums will host the milestone event featuring teams from both North and South America.

Most importantly, Messi is desperate to end the Argentina national team’s drought, which now extends more than two decades. He understands it’s a difficult task given the overall depth in the 16-team tournament field, however:

Over the years I have played in the U.S. during friendlies for Argentina and FC Barcelona, but never in a competitive tournament. And this one matters for Argentina. We have nearly won our last two tournaments, reaching the finals of the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Copa America, but we came up just short both times. You may be surprised to hear this, but Argentina has not raised a major senior trophy of any kind since 1993, and I think it’s important that we end the streak. Not that it will be easy, of course. Eight teams in this Copa America Centenario reached the round of 16 at the last World Cup—twice as many as you’ll see at Euro 2016 this summer.

The Albiceleste open the event with a rematch of last year’s championship match against Chile on June 6 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. While earning all three points is his top priority, he told SI he’s hoping to get a chance to hang out with Curry before moving on to Chicago:

Soccer will be the main focus while I’m in the Bay Area, naturally, but part of me is also hoping to meet [Curry]. Seeing him play is magical. Everyone loves what he does: basketball fans, teammates, rivals. Our small sizes, and even our playing styles, are similar. In December he sent me his signed Warriors jersey. I sent back my signed shirt in April to return the favor.

Bleacher Report UK highlighted more of his comments about the two-time reigning NBA MVP:

Curry may have a lot of extra time on his hands in early June based on the way the Warriors’ battle with the Oklahoma City Thunder is going in the Western Conference Finals. They are down 3-1, but it’s still impossible to count them out after winning a record-setting 73 games during the regular season.

In a more general sense, Messi is eager to get his first chance at an extended stay in the United States. Soccer fans around the country used to watching him on television may finally get an opportunity to see him in person, and he explained to SI he’s ready to embrace the love:

Of course, outside of my family nothing would make me happier than to win my first World Cup with Argentina in 2018. The Copa America this summer is an important step along the way, a chance to show that we can raise a senior trophy for the first time in 23 years. And if we can do that, it will also mean spending nearly a month in the U.S. and learning more about this special country. If you Americans are looking forward to seeing me in person, trust me: The feeling is mutual.

After facing Chile in California and Panama in Chicago, Argentina will wrap up the group stage by facing Bolivia in Seattle, one of the country’s most passionate soccer markets. That should be a sight to behold on June 14.

Even though soccer still sits a ways down in the American sports landscape, which is still dominated by the other form of football, Messi is a global phenomenon. All eyes will be on him in the weeks ahead, and he sounds ready to put on a show. 


Lionel Messi Comments on 2016 Copa America, Stephen Curry and More – Bleacher Report