Lionel Messi did not train with the rest of Argentina’s squad on Thursday, but the 35-year-old is doing an indoor recovery session with the players who started Tuesday’s semi-final win over Croatia..
Hundreds of photographers descended on Argentina’s training facility at Qatar University as 13 players were put through their paces in Doha’s balmy evening heat.
But Messi was not among them, nor was he among the six starters who sat on the sidelines, raising fears that he was nursing a thigh injury after clutching his left hamstring throughout the match against Croatia..
But, according to Argentine newspaper Clarin, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has no injury issues ahead of Sunday’s final and his left hamstring is fine..
Along with the rest of Tuesday’s starting XI – as well as Papu Gomez and Lautaro Martinez – Messi was inside doing recovery work in the gym, with the whole squad having been given Wednesday off.
Argentina have no concerns about Messi’s participation in Sunday’s showpiece at the Lusail Stadium because he is expected to be back on the training fields doing ball work on Friday.
As of now, Gomez is Argentina’s only injury doubt after rolling his ankle against Australia in the last 16, while Angel Di Maria has declared himself fit to play..
This gives manager Lionel Scaloni a number of options for the match, including sticking with the XI that defeated Croatia (in a 4-4-2 formation with Leandro Paredes in midfield), switching to a 5-3-2 formation (with Lisandro Martinez starting), or going to a 4-3-3 formation with Angel Di Maria on the right wing..
Marcos Acuna was suspended for Tuesday’s semi-final, but he returned to training on Thursday and is expected to replace Nicolas Tagliafico in the starting XI.
Sergio Aguero joined the squad on Thursday, and he was joined in the dugout by six starters to watch the rest of the team train: Tagliafico, Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Paredes, Nicolas Otamendi, and Julian Alvarez..
Aguero, who was a member of the Copa America-winning squad before retiring due to a heart condition, has been serving as a cheerleader during the World Cup and participated in a BBQ with the squad on their day off.
Spirits are said to be extremely high in the camp right now, which was boosted even more when Giovani Lo Celso, who missed the tournament due to injury, arrived in Qatar to join his teammates.
Meanwhile, France has been hit by a cold virus that has spread throughout their squad, but both Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano, who were forced to isolate after missing Wednesday’s win over Morocco, returned to training on Thursday..
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