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Lionel Messi will start qualifier vs Brazil, says coach Lionel Scaloni


Argentina captain Lionel Messi is fit and will start the World Cup qualifier at home to Brazil on Tuesday, coach Lionel Scaloni told reporters on Monday.

Scaloni made similar comments ahead of the side’s last game, a 1-0 win against Uruguay on Friday, although Messi only appeared for the final 14 minutes of the match.

Argentina is second in South America’s 10-team qualifying group, six points behind Brazil, which is the only team from the region to have secured its place at Qatar 2022 so far.

Scaloni repeated that Messi, 34, had recovered fully from the knee and hamstring worries that kept him out of Paris St Germain’s last two games and was ready for one of the biggest matches in the South American calendar.

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“He was physically fit the other day and in the end we decided that the best thing was for him to play a few minutes so that he could get a feel of it and he is confirmed to play tomorrow,” Scaloni said ahead of Tuesday’s match in San Juan.

“It’s going to be a very difficult game,” said Scaloni. “They are the team that lead the qualifiers and they are already through to the finals.”

The top four teams in South American qualifying progress automatically to next year’s World Cup finals and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

Argentina is unbeaten in 26 games, a run that includes a 1-0 win over Brazil in the Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro in July.



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