Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Messi hopes to avoid Spain in World Cup group

Argentina have always been struggling for the ideal "number 9" to compliment the great Lionel Messi, and along with Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero has often been criticised for his performances for La Albiceleste.

"We played in a straightforward, courageous, bold manner". We play many games in the season - the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, La Liga, plus everything about the national team and the trips, ' Messi said.

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli says that he is happy with the link-up play on show from his players in the 1-0 win over Russian Federation.

The 30-year-old also defended Gonzalo Higuain, who is failing to perform in important tournaments including the 2014 World Cup final. He added Argentina were too cautious at times.

"I never said I didn't want Icardi in the national team, nor did I make anyone leave other players out", quoted Messi, as saying.

"Argentina scored after the referee failed to see that one of their players was offside, but I'd say they won deservedly".

There were complaints it took up to 90 minutes to reach nearby subway stations on crowded roads lined with fences and police.

The Soviet-era stadium, which hosted the 1980 Olympics and 2008 Champions League final, has been nearly completely rebuilt for the World Cup.

The pitch is natural grass, not artificial as before.

Four years of renovation work to increase the capacity of the stadium to 78,000 fans in time for next year's event have been carried out.

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