A fresh insight into Lionel Messi’s current fitness levels has been provided on Saturday, ahead of Argentina’s upcoming showdown with arch rivals Brazil.
Di Maria makes the difference
Lionel Scaloni’s men were of course back in action late last night.
Riding a hefty 25-game unbeaten run across all competitions, the Copa America holders made the trip to Montevideo, for a World Cup qualifying showdown with Uruguay.
Argentina headed into proceedings sitting comfortably in 2nd in the CONMEBOL standings, behind runaway table-toppers Brazil.
And, when all was said and done at the Estadio Campeón del Siglo, the Albiceleste took another major step towards sealing their spot at next year’s Qatar showpiece.
Despite Uruguay managing to carve out a hatful of presentable chances across the 90 minutes, the visitors stood firm, to eventually emerge victorious courtesy of Angel Di Maria’s 7th-minute stunner:
A stunning curler into the far corner from Angel Di Maria! 😍
No Messi in the starting lineup, but his PSG teammate steps up to the plate for Argentina 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/pzlwxIVcbD
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) November 12, 2021
‘Get the rhythm’
Making Argentina’s latest 3-point haul all the more impressive, meanwhile, is the fact that it came with star man Lionel Messi having been glued to the bench for all but the final fifteen minutes.
This of course comes with the 34-year-old having been forced to sit out Paris Saint-Germain’s last couple of outings, owing to a series of fitness concerns.
In turn, upon Lionel Scaloni speaking to the media earlier today, the subject of his star man’s wellbeing was inevitably brought to the fore, ahead of a crunch showdown with Brazil.
And, in a boost for all associated with the Albiceleste, Scaloni went on to confirm that Messi’s late introduction versus Uruguay came with a view to Tuesday night, with the 6-time Ballon d’Or winner primed to feature from the off in San Juan:
‘His entry in the second half serves to get the rhythm ahead of the game with Brazil.’
‘We decided not to play him in the starting line-up because he’s coming off some inactivity and the game was going to be like the one that happened.’
Messi didn’t play from the start against Uruguay ❌, but the Argentina coach said his cameo in the last minutes was to prepare him for the game against Brazil 🇦🇷 🇧🇷https://t.co/0ahyAOdnOi
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) November 13, 2021