Lionel Messi is convinced Argentina will beat Qatar in their final group game at the Copa America, with the Barcelona superstar admitting an early exit from the competition would be crazy.

Former Real Sociedad and current Al Ahly coach Martin Lasarte believes the comparisons between Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona are “terrible” and feels football has been “unfair” to Argentina in recent years.

Messi finished another international tournament without silverware with Argentina as the Albiceleste went out in the Copa America semi-finals against Brazil this summer.

That setback continued a run of near misses for Messi and Argentina, following the 2014 World Cup and 2015 and 2016 editions of the Copa America.

The World Cup saw Argentina fall in extra-time to Germany while the two previous Copa Americas had Chile defeat them on penalties.

The star man’s frustration appeared to boil over following his red card against Chile in the third-place game, with Messi calling out CONMEBOL’s officiating as biased toward Brazil in the semi-final.

And Lasarte admits the difficulty surrounding an Argentina side that continuously fails to win silverware despite their talent, but lamented how the game has been cruel to Messi and his team-mates.

“We all have the feeling they have elements for having much more and they don’t reach these goals,” Lasarte told Goal. “I think football has been unfair with Argentina. They reached a lot of finals and haven’t been able to be the champions.”

Lasarte has particular sympathy for Messi, who has often come under fire from critics following those international defeats.

The comparison to Argentine legend Maradona in particular irks the Uruguayan.

“Often Messi has been excessively blamed but he is a human,” he added. “Both in Argentina and with Barcelona, I have the feeling he is surrounded, maybe badly surrounded.

“The comparison with Maradona is terrible, it must be hard to be compared to him.

“It is painful to see Messi’s career going on without titles with Argentina”.

Messi’s ire for officials during the Brazil semi-final included the usage of VAR, or the lack thereof, at key moments.

Lasarte also took issue with VAR, understanding its importance to the game but taking umbrage with the implementation.

“VAR was the main character,” Lasarte said of the system at the Copa America. “It modified many decisions and there still was controversy.

“It arrived for staying but it needs a better adaptation. You can’t wait for a minute and a half for knowing a decision because it transforms the game. Justice can’t be an excuse”.

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