Messi returns for Argentina as Brazil grudge match beckonsNovember 1, 2019
Lionel Messi returns to Argentina duty in November as the Albiceleste prepare for what will doubtlessly be a charged encounter with Copa America winners Brazil.
The Barcelona star’s last game for his nation came in the Copa third-place play-off, where he was sent off after his clash with Chile midfielder Gary Medel.
Messi, however, provoked the wrath of CONMEBOL with his comments following that game, when he railed against “corruption” and a “lack of respect”.
Tensions between the star and the governing body had been inflamed during a 2-0 semi-final defeat to hosts Brazil, with the Selecao’s second goal following an alleged foul in the penalty area on Sergio Aguero and the decision not to consult VAR a particular source of contention.
Following the tournament, Messi was banned for three months by CONMEBOL, a sanction that saw him miss a succession of post-Copa friendlies for the Albiceleste.
But he is now back in the fold after being called up by coach Lionel Scaloni for his side’s latest friendlies, including a November 15 clash with none other than Brazil themselves in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Sergio Aguero also earns a recall for the double-header against the Selecao and Uruguay, to be played three days later in Tel Aviv, although there is no place for Angel Di Maria despite the Paris Saint-Germain winger’s recent fine form at club level.
Mauro Icardi is another PSG player left out in the cold, while in defence there is a surprise first call-up for 19-year-old Nehuen Perez, a member of Argentina’s Under-20 World Cup squad currently on loan at Portugal’s Famalicao from Atletico Madrid.
Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso also regains his place, having missed out on the last international round due to injury.
Scaloni has also refrained from picking members of the River Plate squad due to the Buenos Aires club’s upcoming Copa Libertadores final clash with Flamengo, meaning that there is no place for the likes of goalkeeper Franco Armani, defender Lucas Martinez Quarta or promising midfielder Exequiel Palacios.
Goalkeeping duties will most likely fall on Esteban Andrada, the Boca No. 1 who returns to the squad after both Boca and River players were excluded from the last friendlies as a result of their Libertadores commitments.
There is also good news for Atlanta United starlet Ezequiel Barco, who won a place in the Under-23 squad coached by Fernando Batista which will continue their preparations for next year’s Olympic Games qualifying tournament.
Argentina squad vs Brazil and Uruguay:
Goalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin, Juan Musso, Emiliano Martinez, Esteban Andrada.
Defenders: Juan Foyth, Renzo Saravia, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Walter Kannemann, Marcos Rojo, Nehuen Perez, Nicolas Tagliafico.
Midfielders: Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Nicolas Dominguez, Rodrigo De Paul, Marcos Acuna, Roberto Pereyra, Lucas Ocampos.
Attackers: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Gonzalez, Lucas Alario, Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala.