Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said Lionel Messi does not need goals to be happy after the Barcelona forward failed to score but starred in a playmaking role in the 6-1 win over Paraguay.
Messi dropped deep into midfield, participated in five of the six goals and ended the night with three assists as they turned it on in Concepcion on Tuesday to set up a final against Chile in Santiago on Saturday.
Argentina earned a final berth against hosts Chile in Santiago on Saturday.
“If Messi gives passes that end up in goals then there is no problem,” Martino told a news conference.
“What is more important is that he responds to what the game demands. He doesn’t look worried to me. He is happy and he has no problems.
“He doesn’t need to be the team’s goalscorer to be happy.”
Argentina had scored only four times in four games before Tuesday and Martino claimed before this match that their finishing had let them down, but he was delighted with their prolific performance.
“We are very happy because these guys are in another final of an important tournament in the space of less than a year,” he said.
“It’s not the World Cup, but it’s very important. We will have to work hard to win the game against Chile in the final, but today we played a good game and it’s clear we were very decisive.”
As well as Messi, the 52-year-old coach praised Javier Pastore after the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder scored one and was involved in several other goals.
“He played a great game,” said Martino, who also took Paraguay to the 2011 Copa final.
“He was clear of his role in midfield, he showed good skills and he found the spaces to attack goal which is something we are always talking about with him.”
Martino said their final opponents have been building towards the Copa final since 2012.
“We are up against a Chile team that are playing well,” Martino said.
“They have good players and have been in a process for three years. Some ideas don’t change and Chile won’t change against us.
“They will press us when they can and attack us just like they do against other teams.”
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