Sampaoli on Messi: Argentina 'more his team than mine'


Without a slightly injured Lionel Messi, Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini provided late goals for Argentina in a 2-0 win over Italy in a pre-World Cup friendly on Friday.

Barcelona-bound midfielder Arthur joked he would be able to confirm whether Lionel Messi was from this planet when he joins the LaLiga giants.

The five-time Ballon d'Or victor was replaced in the starting line-up by Paris Saint-Germain's Giovani Lo Celso.

Sampaoli believes the friendlies against Italy, who failed to qualify for the World Cup finals, and Spain present an opportunity for Argentina to send out a warning to their opponents.

Messi has never won a major tournament with La Albiceleste and will be hoping for better fortunes at Russian Federation 2018, having lost to Germany in the Brazil 2014 final. "It was a hard blow to take", Messi recently told Argentine television program La Cornisa.

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Argentina, now fourth in the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, will again need Lionel Messi to inspire them, like he has numerous times in the past, but manager Jorge Sampaoli needs the supporting cast to also do a lot of the work. "We missed the final push to goal in the final third".

Last chance? Although Messi is still in his prime, the 30-year-old realises the World Cup in Russian Federation, which starts in June, could represent his last chance to hoist the famous gold trophy.

"It's the dream I have always had and every time a World Cup comes it gets even stronger".

Aguero sustained the injury while training with his club Manchester City on March 11 and has not played since.

While talking vastly about Barcelona man's achievements and criticism that he faces for failing to lift trophies with the national team; Maradona urged Messi to ignore such people and focus on the test ahead.