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Messi expecting 'very difficult' Copa America semi-final against United States

Argentina captain Lionel Messi expects United States will give his side a "very difficult" match in the semi-finals of the Copa America.

Messi set two goals up and scored another on his first start in this year's tournament as Argentina beat Venezuela 4-1 to book a last-four spot.

The Barcelona star has now drawn level with Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's joint-record goalscorer on 54 strikes, but Messi is focusing on the semi-final.

"It's important for what it means to be the top scorer because it's Bati, but what makes me happier is the team, the result, because we made it to the semis," Messi said.

"I liked the personality of the team and that we always go out to be the protagonists.

"The United States try to get close to you, to attack, they're a very difficult team. We have to do what we have been doing up until now. We are growing and that's the way we have to carry on."

Messi believes Argentina deserve more credit for their recent achievements, having reached the final of the 2014 World Cup and last year's Copa America showpiece, which they lost on penalties to Chile, who play Colombia in the second semi-final.

"We don't give them the importance that we should because we didn't win, but it's not easy to reach two consecutive finals," he said. 

"What this team did has a lot of merit, although we all want to win. Now I hope we can reach a third final."