Messi begins highway to Russia as Argentina chase World Cup glory

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22 Mar 2018, 09:56 IST





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Manchester, Mar 22 (AFP) Lionel Messi begins his highway to World Cup redemption on Friday as Argentina tackle Italy in a glamour pleasant, determined to win a significant worldwide prize to crown his wonderful profession.

In Barcelona’s colors, Messi has skilled nothing however success, successful eight La Liga titles and 4 Champions League crowns, whereas incomes FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award 5 occasions.

However pulling on Argentina’s blue-and-white striped shirt has introduced the ahead a number of the most painful moments of his profession.

Not often capable of hit the identical heights with Argentina that he routinely scales with Barcelona, Messi has endured stinging criticism from ‘Albiceleste’ followers at occasions.

No one would dispute Messi’s standing as one of many all-time greats, however many in Argentina imagine he can’t be thought of on the identical degree as Diego Maradona till he wins a significant honour together with his nation, as his compatriot did on the 1986 World Cup.

Rubbing salt into these wounds, Messi has misplaced in three successive main finals with Argentina because the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America titles slipped from his grasp.

“I cried many occasions due to video games like these, for misplaced finals, for what they imply and for not with the ability to obtain the dream of a rustic. It was a tough blow to take,” Messi just lately advised Argentine tv programme La Cornisa.

The final World Cup was devastating to Messi as he missed a golden alternative to place Argentina forward within the closing towards Germany, who went on to win 1-Zero in extra-time.

As if that was not dangerous sufficient, for the primary time in his profession, he missed in a penalty shootout when Argentina have been overwhelmed by Chile within the Copa America closing two years in the past.

– Final probability? –

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Though Messi remains to be in his prime, the 30-year-old realises the World Cup in Russia, which begins in June, might symbolize his final probability to hoist the well-known gold trophy.

He shall be approaching the twilight of his profession by the point the 2022 version kicks off in Qatar. Messi may have additionally famous that key Argentina team-mates Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Nicolas Otamendi and Javier Mascherano will all be 30 or over this 12 months.

“Clearly, we rely on outcomes and due to this fact the pondering on this group is that having bought to 3 finals and never with the ability to win and even then individuals say plenty of issues about us, if we’re not champions then we can’t have one other one (alternative),” Messi stated.

Having edged via to the finals because of Messi’s treble in a Three-1 win over Ecuador in October, Argentina are centered on peaking in Russia, the place they are going to play Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria within the group stage.

First up is an intriguing take a look at towards an Italy facet that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli believes the match at Manchester Metropolis’s floor will assist to sharpen his facet earlier than a second pleasant in Spain subsequent week.

“Every match and coaching session is key for us in preparation for the World Cup. Enjoying towards Italy, in a venue as essential as Etihad Stadium, is an invite to an ideal occasion,” he stated.

“Each Argentine on this planet needs to be there when the nationwide staff performs. We’re sure they are going to accompany us for this one

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