Thursday, July 18, 2024

Messi in doubt for Argentina against Paraguay


Montevideo (AFP) – Argentina’s national soccer team coach Lionel Scaloni said star Lionel Messi is a doubt for Thursday’s third-round South American qualifier for the 2026 World Cup against Paraguay, despite “looking good” in training.

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Messi has been sidelined for about a month due to “muscle fatigue,” according to his American compatriot and coach at Inter Miami, Gerardo “Tada” Martino.

Messi returned with an injury after the international break in early September and missed four matches for his side before coming on as a substitute in Saturday’s 0-1 loss to Cincinnati, and his dream of qualifying for the playoffs evaporated.

“We have one more practice and that’s important for him,” Scaloni said. “I have to talk to him and we have to confirm his ability to participate. He was good. Based on that, we will see the rest of the team.”

Scaloni explained that he also had to take into account that his country would face Peru in Lima five days later.

“What keeps us calm is that if he’s not ready to play, any player who replaces him will do the same. That’s the most important thing.”

Argentina, who beat Ecuador and Bolivia in their opening two games in the qualifiers, share top spot with Brazil on six points.

Adding Manchester City’s Englishmen Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez to Italian Inter Milan in attack is one of Scaloni’s options if Messi is not available.

Scaloni said, “They have already played together as openers. I am open to many things. It depends on the match. There will be no problem. They are different, but they can play together.”

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Paraguay has a point, a draw with Peru in the opening round and a loss to Bolivia in the second round, and a last-place finish in sixth place, qualifying directly for the 2026 World Cup.

Brazil will play host Venezuela in Guayaba on Thursday, and its midfielder Casemiro said Celiso will not underestimate the opponent, who is looking to make his first appearance in the finals.

The current England Manchester United and former Spanish Real Madrid midfielder told a press conference, “It will be a tough match. Venezuela has its advantages. There are many players who play in Europe, famous players. The main thing here is respect.”

He added, “Soccer is one of the few sports in which the party wants to win and it doesn’t always win… There is no easy competition in South America.”

Brazil will be playing their third tournament under interim coach Fernando Diniz, and Casemiro said the team was still adjusting to the new approach.

He added, “We try to adapt as quickly as possible, but it takes time. At club level it usually takes months. We try to do it through videos and so on, in line with the philosophy we work with in the national team. Be as quick as possible and minimize mistakes.” “.

After facing Venezuela, Brazil will face Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay in Montevideo on Tuesday, while Venezuela play against Chile.

Camelia Garner
Camelia Garner
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