SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Lionel Messi will be on the bench for top-ranked Argentina's Copa America opener and rematch of last year's final against No. 5 Chile.
The news about the 28-year-old Barcelona star before Monday night's match at Levi's Stadium was hardly a surprise given the midfielder's recent back injury. He practiced on the side during Sunday's training and not with the full team.
Messi testified last Thursday in his tax fraud trial in Spain and joined the national team the next day.
Playing at home last year, Chile beat Argentina and Messi 4-1 on penalty kicks for La Roja's first Copa championship. Argentina's senior team has not won a major title since the 1993 Copa.
Nicolas Gaitan was set to start in Messi's place.