Messi Returning to Play for Argentina’s National Team In Time for World Cup Qualifiers

It’s a welcome change of heart for Lionel Messi

The 29-year-old has announced his return to Argentina’s national team for their World Cup qualifiers in September, ending his short-lived retirement from international football.

Lionel Messi

Messi called it quits after missing a penalty in the shootout defeat to Chile in this summer’s Copa America Centenario final — the third consecutive loss for Argentina in a major final.

“I see that there are a lot of problems in Argentina football and I don’t want to create more,” Messi, who was included in the Albiceleste‘s 18-man squad to face Uruguay and Venezuela, said in a statement on Friday. “I don’t want to cause harm, on the contrary, my goal was to help in any way I could.”

Messi, who is Argentina’s all-time leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 appearances, made reference to federation problems a few days before the Copa final, saying the AFA, Argentine football’s governing body, was “a disaster” after the team suffered delayed flights and experienced problems finding opponents for training games.

“There are many things that need to be fixed in Argentine football. But I prefer to help from inside rather than stand on the outside and criticize,” the statement continued.

“A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final. And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.

“I want to thank all the fans who wanted me to keep playing for Argentina. I hope we can give them joy very soon.”

With the CONMEBOL deadline to name the squads for September’s World Cup qualifiers looming on Friday, newly-appointed Argentina manager Edgardo Bauza had expressed confidence Messi would change his mind and opt to return to the team, and that belief was rewarded with Messi’s confirmation later in the day.

Bauza, who took over as national team coach after the resignation of Gerardo Martino last month, had flown to Spain to meet Argentina players in Barcelona on Thursday and reassure them there would be order in the national team despite ongoing chaos in the football federation.

He said he didn’t pressure Messi to reconsider his decision to retire from international duty and had “only talked football” with the striker, but claimed Messi wanted to return.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to return to play for the national team,” Bauza told reporters in Argentina. “I saw him with a great desire to return.”

Argentina are preparing for September qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela after crashing out in the group stage of the Olympics for the first time since 1964.

The federation, which had been led by Julio Grondona since the 1970s, has been in turmoil since his death in 2014.

In June, FIFA stepped in and named a committee to run its daily affairs, with a stipulation that elections must be held by July 2017.

Argentina legend Diego Maradona claimed the chaos within the federation was institutional and that Messi had been right to comment on it.

Messi’s Hat-Trick Leads Barcelona to a 4-3 Win Over Real Madrid

It’s a clasico moment for Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates…

Futbol Club Barcelona is now within one point of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as the team came from behind twice thanks to a hat-trick from the 26-year-old Argentine soccer star.

Lionel Messi

Messi miraculous play helped Barcelona to a thrilling El Clasico win at the Santiago Bernabeu by a final score of 4-3.

Both sides went in tied at 2-2 at halftime as a record 19th goal against Madrid from Messi cancelled out Karim Benzema‘s double after Andres Iniesta had put Barca in front.

Cristiano Ronaldo then put Madrid back in front from the penalty spot, but the hosts were reduced to 10-men when Sergio Ramos pulled down Neymar inside the box 10 minutes later and Messi leveled once more from the spot.

And the Argentine won the game with another penalty seven minutes from time after Iniesta had been felled by Xabi Alonso.

A first defeat for Real in 32 games means Atletico Madrid remains atop the standings thanks to their better head-to-head record against Los Blancos with Barca still in third.

“The league starts a new now,” said Barca boss Gerardo Martino.
”More than the mathematical distance we were behind, the impression was people wrote us off. Atletico Madrid were always in the fight and I think that after this result we are too. We knew if we didn’t win tonight it was over for us. We still don’t have matters in our own hands, but we’ll now fight till the end.”

Messi Given All-Clear to Play in Barcelona’s Next Game

Lionel Messi is ready, ready, ready to run and kick…

The 26-year-old Argentine soccer star, the four-time Ballon d’Or / FIFA World Player of the Year, has been cleared by coach Gerardo Martino to play in FC Barcelona’s Copa del Rey clash with Getafe on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi

Messi returned to full training with his team last week but didn’t play in Sunday’s 4-0 Primera Division home win over Elche, after which Martino suggested there were still some doubts over his fitness afterseveral similar thigh muscle setbacks during 2013.

But Martina announced in a news conference on Tuesday that a few more training sessions had helped Messi build up the fitness needed to return after 58 days on the sidelines.

“What has changed is that he has a few training sessions done now,” he said. “Before the Elche game he had only two or three, and now he has trained some more days and has done a period of good work. All he needs to do now is take part in a competitive game.

“This was the normal way to do things, and everything should hopefully continue as normal from now on. We will find out tomorrow if Messi starts or not.”

Martino said any player who had been through a frustrating spell of injuries needed confirmation that they were fully fit again.

“When a player has had many injuries in a short amount of time, there can be doubts in their head,” he added. “I have spoken with him — he is fine now, so he is back in the squad. Maybe he is lacking some match fitness, but that does not matter with him. It just matters that he is fit again.”

Martino Named Futbol Club Barcelona’s New Manager

Gerardo Martino is Barcelona bound…

The 50-year-old Argentine soccer manager and former midfielder, nicknamed TataGerardo Martino is Barcelona bound…

Gerardo Martino

The 50-year-old Argentine soccer manager and former midfielder, nicknamed Tata, has agreed to a two-year contract with Futbol Club Barcelona.

Martino, who led Newell’s Old Boys to the Argentinian Clausura title last season, was appointed to the post after it was announced on Friday that Tito Villanova would be stepping down after a recurrence of his throat cancer.

“FC Barcelona have reached an agreement to appoint Gerardo Martino as the new coach of the football team for the next two seasons. This agreement is pending the drafting and signing of the contract,” read a club statement.

Several coaches had been linked with the vacancy at the Liga champions, including Luis EnriqueAndre Villas-BoasMarcelo BielsaMichael Laudrup and Guus Hiddink, who resigned as coach of Anzhi Makhachkala on Mohas agreed to a two-year contract with Futbol Club Barcelona.