Sunday 23 September 2018

Messi set for Madrid return to face Spain

Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters
Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters

Lionel Messi is set to return for Argentina's friendly showdown with Spain in Madrid.

The Albiceleste captain sat out Friday's 2-0 win over Italy in Manchester as a precaution because of an adductor muscle injury but trained fully yesterday and has been cleared to lead his country out at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said: "Messi trained with the group normally so he is available to play.

"Before the game against Italy Leo said he could not play. But he has trained the last two days. We will select the starting XI later."

Speaking earlier in the day, Messi told Fox Sports Argentina: "My idea is to play against Spain, I just need to see how I feel after the last training session. I trained normally yesterday (Sunday), I feel good and I hope to play."

Argentina's all-time record goalscorer, who could come face-to-face with Barcelona team-mates Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba in the Spain defence, added: "I'm optimistic. I'm really keen to play against Spain. Hopefully that will be the case and things turn out well."

Sampaoli has outlined Messi's importance to Argentina - who are without knee-injury-victim Sergio Aguero - by revealing the side will be set up to get the best out of him. "It's impossible to teach Messi anything. Leo is unreachable," he said. "You cannot teach him, you have to understand him, you have to build a team around him. We have to learn how to accompany this type of player that only exists once in a blue moon."

Spain drew 1-1 with Germany in Dusseldorf on Friday, extending their unbeaten record under Julen Lopetegui to 17 matches.

  • Spain v Argentina, Live, Sky Sports, 8.30

Irish Independent

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