Copa América: Lionel Messi returns to starting lineup for Argentina’s quarterfinal vs. Ecuador

Lionel Messi will start for Argentina in its Copa América quarterfinal matchup against Ecuador on Thursday at NRG Stadium in Houston. Messi sat out of Argentina’s final group stage match on Saturday to nurse a right leg injury he sustained against Chile.

Going into Sunday’s match, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said Messi’s availability would be a game-time decision.

“Depending on how he responds, we will decide,” Scaloni said Wednesday before training. “There are ramifications when Leo is not able to play. We’ll try to make sure that he can play. If not, we’ll try to find the best solution for the team. I will talk to him today. It’s only fair that he can take his time and be able to train as much as he can.”

Sunday will mark Messi’s third game at this year’s Copa América. The 37-year-old Argentina captain went the full 90 minutes in Argentina’s first two group stage matches and recorded an assist in their 2-0 win over Canada. His 18 assists at Copa América are the most in the tournament’s history. He’s still looking for his first goal of this year’s tournament.

Coverage of Argentina-Ecuador begins at 5 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app.

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