Messi strong injury doubt for Italy game

Brazil may have coped well without Neymar, but an Argentina side without Lionel Messi are an entirely different prospect altogether.

Lionel Messi sat out Argentina's 2-0 victory over Italy in Manchester on Friday, while the injured Sergio Aguero was officially released from the squad.

Luigi Di Biagio had the unenvious task of trying to show the public that the Italian national team are back and ready to play in a new, exciting way, but up against such tough opposition as Argentina, it's hard to play expansive football and not be caught on the counter attack.

At the club level, the diminutive forward has won all there is to win from the La Liga to the UEFA Champions League to the FIFA Club World Cup, multiple times that too, but success on the global stage has eluded him.

Fabregas has not played alongside Messi since leaving the Nou Camp in 2014.

"He has to forget about the critics, if he can win or not the World Cup, the Champions League or the Copa del Rey".

Maradona captained Argentina and helped them lift World Cup in 1986 as well as winning the Golden Ball for being the best of all in the tournament.

The Super Eagles will take on Argentina in their last Group D game at the 2018 World Cup in Saint Petersburg.

Argentina finished runners-up to Germany at the 2014 World Cup and to Chile at the 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments but Sampaoli believes that Messi can help the team go one step further and end their trophy drought in Russian Federation. Is it the pressure of finally delivering in what'll nearly certainly be his final World Cup?

Ahead of a busy end to the club season and leading his country at the World Cup, Messi wasn't going to risk aggravating the problem.

Head coach Jorge Sampaoli added in his post-game media conference: "We had planned the game with Leo Messi in the starting line-up, but he had an injury and we preferred him not to take part".

It was Italy's first match since failing to qualify for the World Cup and the debut of interim coach Luigi Di Biagio.

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