Brazil and Argentina played their respective 11th matches in the CONMEBOL Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Selecao had already qualified for the showpiece event in Qatar via their 1-0 victory over Colombia last week. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi and Argentina needed just a point to join their arch-rivals in the showpiece event.
They secured that point via a 0-0 draw with Brazil at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario. Argentina had Messi to call upon from the start in this game after he played just 14 minutes in their 1-0 victory over Uruguay last week. The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) forward started the game and played for the entire 90 minutes.
Speaking after the game to TYC Sports (via Mundo Albiceleste), Lionel Messi had this to say about his fitness:
“I’m picking up pace. We always knew that we could, we tried to play but couldn’t. They also tried to play on the counter. The important thing is that we didn’t lose.”
Messi also spoke about the nature of the match between Argentina and Brazil, which often tends to be a high-voltage affair due to the nations' rivalry.
“I got here with just enough, mostly because of the rhythm and this was a very intense game. I’m fine, otherwise, I wouldn’t have played. It’s not easy to play at the pace that this match demands,” Messi said.
Messi was the catalyst for arguably Argentina's best chance in the match against Brazil. The Albiceleste skipper released an excellent shot from outside the box in the second half but it was well saved by Selecao custodian Alisson.
Lionel Messi will hope to kick on for PSG after securing World Cup qualification for Argentina against Brazil
Aside from the shot, Lionel Messi had a fairly quiet game in Argentina's 0-0 draw with Brazil. Messi took four shots out of which two were on target, but couldn't find the back of the net. He won two fouls and completed 82.5% of his passes, but could not create any chances or lay out any key passes for his teammates.
Regardless, Messi will be happy to have assisted Argentina in securing qualification for the 2022 World Cup. His focus will now turn to club football at the Parc des Princes.
Lionel Messi secured a ground-breaking move to PSG in the summer to unite with former Barcelona teammate Neymar Jr. However, Messi has struggled to fully adapt to life in France. The Argentine is yet to register a single goal contribution in five Ligue 1 matches, though he has scored thrice in three UEFA Champions League games.
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Injuries have not helped him either as Messi has already suffered knee and hamstring problems as well as a bone bruise since joining PSG. The 34-year-old will look to get back into his element when club football returns this weekend.