Lionel Messi makes his international return tonight as Argentina take on Venezeula in Madrid.
Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano plays host as the Barcelona star represents his country for the first time since La Albiceleste’s dismal World Cup campaign.
–Argentina vs Venezuela-
Lionel Scaloni, who succeeded Jorge Sampaoli following that disastrous campaign in Russia,
leads the rebuild but there is no room for Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, currently on loan at Chelsea.
Messi has scored 39 times in 37 appearances for Barcelona this season – Argentina could do with that sort of form at this summer’s Copa America.
Lionel Messi has returned to the Argentina national team and is expected to play Friday against Venezuela in an international friendly in Madrid, Spain.
After the poor 2018 World Cup, rumors swirled as to whether the player would hang up his international boots,
but he’s back in the fold now with a youthful, talented squad around him as manager Lionel Scaloni builds toward the future.
–Argentina vs Venezuela-
According to Marca’s Juan Castro, Messi is set to feature on Friday but could miss his country’s game in Morocco.
Angel di Maria has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to a muscular problem and with Aguero, Higuain and Mauro Icardi not in the squad (again), Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez is set to lead the line.
Tottenham defender Juan Foyth is also set to start as part of a back three while West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini is likely to be named on the bench.
Newcastle’s Salomon Rondon could feature Venezuela alongside Atlanta United’s talented Josef Martinez.
This is a really talented squad with young midfielders Leandro Paredes (PSG) and Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis).
Messi is joined in attack by Paulo Dybala of Juventus, Dario Benedetto of Boca Juniors and Gonzalo Martinez of Atlanta United.
Expect Messi to perhaps fall back into more of a No. 10 role to be the engine in attack.
Venezuela: This team is looking to pull off a surprise at this summer’s Copa America and has some players that can help do that.
The duo in attack of Salomon Rondon (Newcastle) and Josef Martinez (Atlanta United) is formidable, and Torino midfielder Tomas Rincon is the heart and soul of the squad.
This team is over-matched from a talent standpoint, but it won’t be when it comes to effort.
Argentina team to face Venezuela: Armani; Gonzalo Montiel, Mercado, Foyth, Lisandro Martinez, Tagliafico; Parades, Lo Celsco; Messi, Lautaro, Pity Martinez
Score prediction: Argentina 2-0 Venezuela
TV channel and live stream, and online coverage
The match will not be available to watch live in the UK.
But you can follow all the action with NewGersy Sport’s LIVE blog,
with our Spanish football correspondent MAS at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Argentina vs Venezuela Head-to-Head Stats
Venezuela’s only win in 24 previous matches against Argentina was in a World Cup qualifier in October 2011.
Their two most recent meetings ended in the only two draws ever between the teams, however – Juanpi and Josef Martinez’s goals cancelled out late on by Lucas Pratto and Nicolas Otamendi the last time they met in Venezuela, while Argentina needed an own goal,
after Jhon Murillo’s strike, to draw 1-1 in Buenos Aires in 2017’s reverse fixture.
Argentina vs Venezuela
Venue: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Kick-off: 8pm GMT, tonight