Messi breaks Mascherano’s record for most Argentina caps


CUIABA, Brazil — Lionel Messi has become Argentina’s most capped international player.

The 34-year-old Messi started the Copa America match against Bolivia at the Arena Pantanal on Monday, marking his 148th appearance for the national team and beating the previous record held by retired defender Javier Mascherano.

Messi made his Argentina debut in 2005 in a 2-1 win in a friendly against Hungary. He was sent off during that match after hitting a rival with his elbow.

The Barcelona striker, who also holds the all-time Argentina high of 73 goals, is seeking to break two South American records: Pele’s as the top goal scorer of a national team (scored 77 for Brazil), and Chile’s Sergio Livingstone mark of 34 for most Copa America appearances (Messi has 31).

Diego Maradona scored 32 goals in 87 matches for Argentina, including the 1986 World Cup triumph. Messi, despite his impressive individual statistics, is yet to win a major title for Argentina.

He was runner-up at the 2014 World Cup and at two editions of Copa America in 2015 and in ’16.

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