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Xavi backs Messi and slams Copa America pitches

July 20, 2011

-File photo

BARCELONA: Criticism of Lionel Messi following Argentina's Copa America exit is “totally exaggerated” and having decent pitches would have helped him play better, his Barcelona team mate Xavi said on Wednesday.

“Leo is the best footballer in the world and unfortunately for him when things are not going well (for Argentina) criticism is directed his way,” Xavi told a news conference.

“The criticism is totally exaggerated as he had a fantastic Copa America despite the setback of Argentina's elimination,” the Spain playmaker added.

Argentina, who last won the Copa in 1993 and are hosting the current tournament, were slammed in the media after falling to Uruguay in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

As the reigning World Player of the Year, Argentines were looking to Messi to lead them to their first major success since their Copa triumph in Ecuador in 1993.

Xavi said some of the pitches at the Copa were “not at all in good condition” and the situation was “a shame for soccer”.

“It's fundamental that the grass is in good shape,” he said.

“On a pitch in bad condition everything becomes more equal, physically, in terms of talent, technically. On a good pitch maybe talent can shine through more.”