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SPORTS | 17-12-2022 10:33

'Dibu' Martínez: 'Greatest-ever' Messi powering underdogs Argentina

Goalkeeper says Argentina will draw on the experience of their successful 2021 Copa América campaign – as well as the dazzling form of Lionel Messi – in the final at the Lusail Stadium.

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez says the Albiceleste are happy to be underdogs as they prepare to face defending champions France in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Martínez said Argentina will draw on the experience of their successful 2021 Copa América campaign – as well as the dazzling form of Lionel Messi – in the final at the Lusail Stadium.

Argentina lifted last year's Copa América title after stunning arch-rivals Brazil in the final at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Martínez said the memory of that win – and the presence of Messi – means Argentina will go into Sunday's final with no fear of Les Bleus.

"When we won in Brazil, the favourite was considered to be Brazil," Martínez said on Saturday. "We always like to hear that the opponent is the favourite because we don't feel superior or inferior to them. And it happens the same right now – people say the favourites are France. But we have the greatest player of all time."

Martínez said Messi, who is hoping to crown his career with victory in what will be his farewell World Cup appearance, has taken his game to another level since inspiring Argentina to the Copa América last year.

"I saw a great Messi in the Copa América, an exceptional player, one of the best," Martínez said. "And in this World Cup he took a step forward compared to the Copa América. 

"He's playing better, both physically and in football terms. It was quite difficult to beat the Messi from the Copa América but he did it. This gives energy to the whole squad. He's excited, he's full of joy and it helps us very much."

 

– TIMES/AFP

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