Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi says the worst possible draw for his Argentina side at next year’s World Cup would be Spain in the first round. “The worst that could happen to us would be to draw Spain at the group stages,” Messi told TyC Sports from Moscow, where Argentina play Russia in a friendly on Saturday (10am kick off) in a practice run before next year’s tournament. “I would prefer to avoid them, they’d be tough opponents.” In the interview with the television station, Messi named Brazil, Germany and France alongside Spain as favourites to take the World Cup crown in Russia.
“I think that at the moment, they’re the strongest teams who give the best impressions, those who are playing best, with the best individuals.” Messi also addressed Argentina’s last-gasp qualification for the World Cup finals, which the Barcelona star sealed with a hat-trick in a rare 3-1 away victory over Ecuador.
“I always believed we’d get there, but I thought we would have tied up qualification before the Ecuador game,” said Messi, reiterating that he would like to end his career in his birthplace of Rosario. “I would love to play for Newell’s Old Boys, in the stadium where I’ve seen so many matches,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming years, how I’m going to feel. I live from day to day, I’m not focused on the future.”
The Argentina captain also expressed his anger at perceptions he wields a large influence over the team and the selection of players, calling the idea “ridiculous.” “People say a lot of things without knowing. So, on one hand, it makes me angry. But, on the other hand, I am used to everything that they say,” he told ESPN. “It’s a lie that I put my friends and the coaches I want in the national team, I’m just one more player in the team.”
Argentina face Nigeria in Krasnodar on Tuesday (1.30pm kick off), in the second game of the international break.