Messi vs Neymar – Who performed better in Copa America 2021?

Lionel Messi has been the standout performer in the Copa America….

Lionel Messi and Neymar were rivals on the pitch when Brazil and Argentina locked horns in the final of Copa America 2021 at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday. 

The former FC Barcelona teammates, very close friends off the pitch, are two of the biggest superstars in South America and World football and the titanic battle saw Messi’s Argentina come out victors 1-0, courtesy of an Angel Di Maria strike. 

While Brazil have scored 12 goals in the competition, Argentina also score the same number of goals.

Both Messi and Neymar were both impressive in the Copa America but when it comes to the impact and importance of the players to their respective sides, Messi is clear of him. 

The former FC Barcelona skipper has scored four goals and five assists. He has had a direct influence on nine out of the 12 goals Argentina has scored. Compared to Messi, Neymar has scored two goals and provided three assists, contributing to five goals out of Brazil’s 12 strikes.

Lionel Messi Argentina

It has been Messi’s tournament and the icing on the cake was La Albiceleste winning the trophy. Argentina have not won an international trophy since winning the Copa America in 1993 and Messi himself has never won an international title losing four finals (one World Cup and three Copa Americas) in his career before Sunday’s victory.

How have Messi and Neymar performed at the 2021 Copa America?

Player Games Goals Assists Free-kick goals Conversion rate Passing accuracy Dribbles per match
Lionel Messi 7 4 5 2 23.53% 80.78% 5.5
Neymar 6 2 3 0 11.76% 80.18% 5.2

Stats courtesy: Squawka

What did Neymar and Messi say before the final?

“Messi is, as I’ve always said, the best player I’ve ever seen play and he’s a great friend, but now we’re in a final, we’re rivals. I want to win and I really want to win this title, which would be my first Copa America,” Neymar said. 

“Messi has been looking for his first title with the national team for many years, and every time we [Brazil] are not present at the tournament, I cheered for him. That’s what I’ve been cheering for in the 2014 World Cup final when he faced Germany.

“Now Brazil is in the dispute, so our friendship is on the line. The respect between us is still great but only one can win.

“When you’re friends with someone, it’s hard to forget the friendship you have – but for example when you play video games with a friend, you want to beat him anyway. It’ll be the same thing on Saturday.”

Messi, meanwhile, said this – “Brazil, with Neymar, are going to be very difficult. We know his potential, what he does individually.”

What did Messi and Neymar do after the final?

Messi and Neymar, immediately in the aftermath of the final, were seen embracing each other wholeheartedly. 


Further reading

Records that Messi can break in the Copa final

Last five Brazil vs Argentina matches in major international tournaments


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