Argentina icon Lionel Messi returned to international action when he was introduced as a substitute during Argentina’s 1-0 win at home to Paraguay on Friday.
Messi nearly had a big impact after replacing Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez in the 53rd minute in Buenos Aires, hitting the woodwork from a corner and free-kick.
Table-toppers Argentina have a perfect record in qualifying from three matches and play next on Tuesday against Peru, who have one point from the same number of games.
Could Messi start this time? What has Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said about his potential participation? Here’s the latest.
¡AHI VIENE EL CAPITÁN! Leo Messi saltó al campo y forma parte de la práctica de la Scaloneta en Ezeiza. ¿Vas de titular, Pulga?
— SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) October 16, 2023
Is Lionel Messi playing today? Latest updates for Peru match
There are hopes that Messi could start at the national stadium in Lima after he trained before Argentina’s final game of the international break.
Footage has shown the superstar in training but doubts remain over a leg injury that has been hindering him recently.
Scaloni described Messi’s physical condition as “fine”, adding: “He has been adding minutes of training. We will make the decision [on Tuesday].”
Messi has recently missed out on Inter Miami’s failed push for an MLS playoff spot, missing five of the last seven games through a muscle issue. The two he did feature in saw him clock a total of 72 minutes on the field.
Argentina predicted starting lineup vs Peru
Scaloni named a bloated 36-man squad for the matches against Paraguay and Peru this month, but Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala, and Juan Foyth were forced to withdraw due to injury. Lisandro Martinez will also be unavailable after having to undergo another foot operation.
Now that Inter Miami’s playoff run is officially over, Argentina can feel a little easier about deploying Messi more regularly. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will return to Miami for their final two matches of the season after this international.
Argentina projected starting lineup (4-3-3): E. Martinez (GK) — Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna — De Paul, E. Fernandez, Mac Allister — J. Alvarez, L. Martinez, Messi