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Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni: ‘Lionel Messi is fit but we could make changes’

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni: ‘Lionel Messi is fit but we could make changes’

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni insists that star forward Lionel Messi “is fine” and fit to face Mexico in their crucial World Cup 2022 Group C clash on Saturday.

Messi was on the scoresheet as La Albiceleste suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia in their opening group fixture on Tuesday, a result which ended their 36-game unbeaten run across all competitions.

Recent reports in Argentina, via Buenos Aires Times, claim that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is carrying a knock and has emerged as a doubt for their next encounter against Mexico.

The Paris Saint-Germain star allegedly opted to train away from the rest of the first-team squad on Thursday at their training base at the Qatar University campus in Doha.

However, Scaloni has confirmed that Messi is well both “physically and morally”, although he has suggested that there could be alterations to other areas of his starting lineup.

Argentina's Lionel Messi looks dejected after Saudi Arabia score their first goal on November 22, 2022© Reuters

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Scaloni said: “Messi is fine. More than ever we need everyone. Surely everything will go well, physically and morally, he is fine.

“We have no doubts about our way of playing. In today’s training we will decide the team. It is possible that we make some variation.”

Scaloni is keen for his players to bounce back quickly from their disappointing defeat last time out, but the 44-year-old is aware of the threat Mexico are likely to pose on Saturday.

“When you receive a pineapple you have to get up. And this group is prepared to do it,” Scaloni added. “People know what this group has given and I know that they have full confidence in us.

“We are fine, knowing that we have an important game tomorrow and that, luckily, it depends on us. We’re going to give everything.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni pictured on November 22, 2022© Reuters

“The team’s way of playing is going to be similar. We are not going to change our way of playing because of what happened on Tuesday. We have to turn the page and think about how we are going to beat Mexico.

“Mexico is a very good team, they have a very clear idea of the game. They are an offensive team that has a great coach. Let people trust us because a setback can’t tarnish everything we’ve done at all.”

Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez has labelled Saturday’s clash as a “final” for the two-time world champions, telling reporters: “We were sad, hurt by what was the game with Saudi Arabia. But in the World Cup there is no time and now we will have to face a very tough opponent. We are preparing this new game.

“Tomorrow will be a final, we have to win. We have shown that we have a hierarchy and for tomorrow’s game it will be essential.”

Argentina have lost four of their last six matches at the World Cup finals, but they have an impressive record against Mexico as they are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with El Tri across all competitions since losing 1-0 at the 2004 Copa America.

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