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'If Messi scores a goal, people ask for two' - Falcao defends Argentina star after Colombia loss

22:23 GMT+3 17/06/2019
Lionel Messi Argentina Colombia Copa America 2019
The striker saw his nation come out on top against the Albiceleste but feels for the Barcelona star, believing he is held to unfair standards

Radamel Falcao has defended Lionel Messi, saying he is held to unfair expectations but admitted it is cost of “being the best player in the world.”

Messi had hoped to reverse a long trend of international heartbreak with Argentina at the 2019 Copa America after the nation lost in the finals to Chile in both 2015 and 2016.

However, Argentina’s tournament got off to a poor start as they lost 2-0 to Colombia on the strength of goals from substitutes Roger Martinez and Duvan Zapata, which consigned the Albiceleste to their first defeat in regulation in the Copa America since 2007. 

Messi had a chance to put Argentina up when the game was still scoreless, but put a header in the area wide.

Any time Argentina lose, Messi invariably comes in for criticism in some circles, but Falcao is convinced the star will find the net soon enough.

He also believes Messi’s quality has made him a target for unfair criticism, suggesting he is subjected to moving targets for what is expected.

"Messi was close to scoring against us, but he is sure to convert in the next couple of matches,” Falcao said after the Colombia victory.

“If Messi scores a goal, people ask for two. If he scores a free-kick, they'll say the wall wasn't set up properly. If Argentina lose, it will be talked about like it was his fault.

“That's the price you pay for being the best player in the world.”

Having defeated Argentina, and with an impressive roster that includes James Rodriguez, Davinson Sanchez, Juan Cuadrado, Zapata, as well as Falcao himself, might have some thinking the nation could go on to win their first Copa America since 2001.

But Falcao has downplayed any talk of Colombia being one of the favourites, arguing the squad still has a long way to go before they can be considered complete.

“We can't think that we are favourites after beating Messi's Argentina,” Falcao said. “A lot is missing. We are just starting and anything can happen. If you fall asleep here, you will lose."

Colombia will face tournament guests Qatar on Wednesday and close out Group B play on Sunday against Paraguay.