Messi: Don't compare Argentina with Barcelona

BUENOS AIRES - It is a mistake to compare Argentina with Barcelona as the Spanish club have been working as a unit for a lot longer, Lionel Messi said on Thursday.

Argentina have been pilloried by the media after drawing their opening two Copa America games before crushing Costa Rica 3-0 in their final group match, thanks largely to an inspired Messi performance.

They face Uruguay in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

While Messi has been largely spared the criticism, his commitment to the Argentine set-up has been questioned in the past. Some pundits have even suggested he might walk away from the national side and concentrate on club football at Barcelona.

"I've never been bothered by what they say in the press and I never will be," Messi said. "I don't think anyone likes it when they're whistled and insulted. We're the first ones who want to do things well.

"It's a mistake to compare this team to Barcelona," he added. "We've all been working together at Barcelona for a long time.

"In the national team we're trying to do something similar, keeping hold of the ball, dictating the rhythm of the game, but you can't compare the two teams, either as a group or in terms of individuals."

Argentina are hoping Messi can lead them to their first major success since their last Copa America triumph in Ecuador in 1993.

"Argentina need a trophy," he said. "It's a long time since we've won one."