Lionel Messi will not be available for Argentina’s World Cup Qualifier against Chile later tonight. The forward tested positive for COVID-19 back in December and has still not made a full recovery from the disease.
In his pre-match press conference, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni explained why Lionel Messi has not been called up for the qualifiers against Chile and Colombia. He said:
“Clearly we would love to have Messi here with us. I spoke to him and he told me that COVID hit him hard. It is key for him to get well, and that is why I decided that the best option was for him to stay at his club.”
When asked who would captain the side in Messi’s absence, Scaloni said:
“The question of the armband is logical enough. Angel [Di Maria] has been in the national team for many years and he is a guy who transmits a lot to his team-mates, he is loved and that’s all there is to it. In that, we are in no doubt at all.”
Messi made his return to action at the weekend in Paris Saint Germain’s 4-0 win against Reims. The Argentine, who had not made an appearance since before Christmas, started the game on the bench and came on in the 63rd minute of the game, replacing his compatriot Angel Di Maria.
Both PSG and Argentina will hope that Messi will be able to return to full fitness soon. The forward has only made 17 appearances across all competitions this season and has contributed six goals and five assists.
Argentina should be able to cope without Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi’s absence shouldn’t hinder Argentina’s qualification process too much as La Albiceleste are currently 2nd in the group, six points ahead of Ecuador in 3rd with a game in hand.
However, Scaloni’s side are also six points behind leaders Brazil and will be looking to top the group. Even with Messi not being available for the upcoming games, Argentina still boast the likes of Paulo Dybala, Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria. That should be more than enough attacking power to get past Chile later tonight.
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