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Messi Expresses Fears for ‘Unknown’ Super Eagles

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first_imgIn an interview with UK’s Daily Express wednesday, the FC Barcelona forward said: “We don’t know so much about Nigeria but the African teams are normally compact, tough and strong. So it will be no walkover,” he observed.His comment was corroborated earlier in the week by former team mate, Javier Mascherano who said “Nigeria is quite well known to us, we’ve always met in the last World Cups. They are tough, not just because of their physical power, but because their disorganisation has the effect of disorganising you as a rival and that is when teams like ours suffer the most,” he pointed out last Sunday in an interview.Messi, scorer of two goals against Nigeria in 3-2 win at the last edition in Brazil was missing in action the last November, when Super Eagles proved bookmakers wrong with an emphatic 4-2 win over the two-time World Champions in an international friendly match in Russia.The shocker of last year in Russia has elevated the next encounter as one of the most important matches in the group stage of the tournament in Russia.Aside his comments about the Nigerian team, Messi also revealed, his thoughts on Argentina’s chances and his future with the Albeceleste: “Our challenge is to be champions,” said the Barcelona superstar.“We know it won’t be easy but I’m certain that Argentina has a squad capable of being a champion in Russia. If the players all believe the same then we can be contenders.”“It’s true that the qualifying phase was complicated for us because we took too long to do it,” he said.“But the important thing is that we are here in this World Cup and that we give everything to achieve as much as we can.“If Argentina goes out there and plays as we know we can then it will be very difficult to beat us.“We have experienced World Cups before and we know that every rival will come out to try and beat us and play the game as if it is a final. That always makes it more complicated. But we are used to it.“It will be important to start strongly. Iceland did well in their last tournament so the first match will not be comfortable. But these are the ones to win if you don’t want the next matches to be even more complicated.”“Croatia is a good team with players in the big European leagues and that makes them dangerous,” said Messi.Argentina opens their account at the Mundial on Saturday afternoon against Iceland before Nigeria takes on Croatia hours later.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Femi Solaja with agency reportsFive-time world footballer of the year and Argentine football legend, Lionel Messi, has expressed the difficulty the South American side will encounter when the Super Eagles face off against the Latin American nation in the last Group D match at the World Cup finals in Russia which gets underway from today.Both teams now, perennial opponent at previous group stage of the competition except at France ‘98 and on all occasions Argentina always triumph but will meet again in the last group match that will determine the journey of the two teams into the knockout phase of the competition.last_img read more

Guardiola’s worst week leaves work still to be done at Man City

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first_imgIn the same time, City’s seven seasons in the Champions League since being bought over by the riches of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, have returned just one semi-final.Over £500 million on transfer fees alone has been pumped into preparing City’s squad for the latter stages of the Champions League in two seasons under Guardiola.Their latest European exit is all the more frustrating as it came at the hands of a side they lead by 17 points in the Premier League.But it is also in keeping with Guardiola’s three years at Bayern Munich where an unprecedented level of domestic dominance wasn’t matched by three semi-final exits in the Champions League.“Two billion pounds, 10 years and an entire Gulf state marketing plan in the making, in the end Manchester City’s best shot so far at becoming the champions of Europe was extinguished in half an hour of tailspin at Anfield and the reverberations from two minutes of self-immolating fury from Pep Guardiola at the Etihad,” wrote Barney Ronay in The Guardian.Guardiola shielded himself from criticism by citing his almost impeccable league record.With City still boasting a 13-point Premier League lead, a seventh title in nine seasons as a senior coach in three different countries remains a formality.“We have to win two games to win the most important competition,” said Guardiola. “The Premier League shows how good you are every three days. In this competition 45 minutes may make the difference.”However, the world’s highest paid coach is expected to deliver on the biggest stage.In a week, Liverpool and United have smashed City’s glass jaw that went largely undiscovered by their Premier League competition for the previous 10 months.Work remains to be done for Guardiola, and his mission at City won’t be completed until Europe is finally conquered.Share on: WhatsApp Manchester, United Kingdom | AFP | In a week of new experiences for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, a comprehensive Champions League 5-1 aggregate exit at the quarter-final stage to Liverpool was an all too familiar feeling.City have now lost three consecutive games under Guardiola for the first time – having also blown the chance to win the Premier League in the sweetest style by letting a two-goal lead slip to lose 3-2 to local rivals Manchester United on Saturday.To complete a miserable six days, Guardiola also lost his cool. A half-time tirade at Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz ensuring he had to watch his side’s latest European exit from the stands.There was some merit to his complaints. Liverpool’s 3-0 first leg lead had already been cut by Gabriel Jesus’s second minute opener before City were wrongly denied a second goal on the night and a route back into the tie by a botched offside call against Leroy Sane.“When the teams are so equal the impact of these decisions is so big,” lamented Guardiola.Guardiola was described as a “very disciplined man” by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp ahead of the game, who even suggested he could learn from his counterpart’s cool head.Yet, Guardiola’s outburst is the latest in a highly charged season that has also seen him reprimanded by the English Football Association for wearing a yellow ribbon in protest at the imprisonment of political activists who seek independence for his native Catalonia.Until the past week, City’s near flawless campaign meant there could be no questioning of Guardiola’s abilities as a coach with even Klopp revering him as “the best in the world”.However, Guardiola too must now face up to repetition of adverse Champions League results in the spring as a pattern rather than coincidence.– Seven seasons for one semi-final –It is now seven years since he last won the second of his Champions League titles as a coach with Barcelona.The ease with which his ultra-attacking approach has been picked off in defeats at the hands of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Monaco and now Liverpool a recurring theme.last_img read more