Messi hat-trick inspires Argentina in rout

Lionel Messi

Asked if Argentina could win the World Cup, Messi swerved between hope and realism.

The paths of the Super Eagles and La Albiceleste will cross for the fifth time at the World Cup in Russian Federation.

"People need to know that we are not going to Russian Federation as favourites but we have a group of very good players and we are ready to scrap", Messi said.

That Messi was not involved in either the semis or the final was great news for Argentina, who have become remarkably reliant on the five-time Ballon d'Or victor over the past couple of years.

In an interview with ElTrece, Messi said: "The other day I was speaking with a my friend, and he told me, 'Look, if you had stayed with Spain, you would be world champion.' But it would not have been the same".

A makeshift and inexperienced Scotland side were beaten but not disgraced in their 2-0 loss to World Cup-bound Peru at the frenzied Estadio Nacional in Lima.

It was a night of celebration for another Barcelona star as Javier Mascherano joined Javier Zanetti as Argentina's most-capped player with 143 worldwide appearances.

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"We have good players and we are getting stronger to fight as an equal with anyone".

'The other day I was talking to a friend and he told me "if you had chosen Spain, you'd be a World Cup victor already", but it wouldn't have been the same, ' added Messi.

"We are not candidates", Lionel Messi said.

'I'm increasingly sure that in Europe, Barcelona will be my only club, ' Messi told Argentine television station El Trece.

There were two different classes of teams on the field Tuesday, as Argentina controlled the pace, created a number of golden opportunities beyond the four goals and kept Haiti away from goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

"I met Cesc's parents and at the time we were interested in Messi and Pique as well".

"No one should doubt that we're going to give our all, as our supporters demand. Iceland showed they could compete with anyone at the last Euros, Croatia have a great midfield, like Spain but a level below, and we always struggle against Nigeria", he added.

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