MIAMI GARDENS, FL, USA (AP) — Against rivals who sacrificed some numbers and provided facilities without stepping on the gas, Argentina are accurate and performing well months before the World Cup was doing. And Lionel Messi was the star of it all.
Messi delivered a great pass, converted a penalty and added a spectacular goal for Albiceleste. Albiceleste beat Honduras 3-0 on Friday to begin a two-match warm-up tour in the United States en route to Qatar.RELATED
Lautaro Martinez opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Messi hit a cross ball to the left post from the 11th step at the end of the first half. His second goal for the Paris Saint-Germain star player came in the 68th minute, when Enso took advantage of a sent-off error by the Honduran defense and scored with his ball, a perfect chop off the crescent, with the help of Fernandes on his side.
“Well, as the game is getting more and more oiled up, the ideas are becoming clearer,” Messi assessed. “The World Cup is approaching and I am very excited, very excited, anxious but at the same time calm. I won’t.”
His performance in South Florida saw Messi score 88 goals, establishing himself as the all-time leading scorer for his country’s national team.
“This game was what we expected and we played as we should, I’m happy,” said Albiceleste manager Lionel Scaroni at a press conference.
“Honduras is a good rival,” he said, explaining that there are no longer easy opponents, and that his team is thinking of this match “as if it were the World Cup final.”
The coach explained that he preferred to protect some players such as Nicolas Otamendi, Paulo Dybala and Ángel Di María and put others in their place.
“Whoever comes in and plays shows that he can play and makes things difficult for me,” he said.
As for Messi, he said he looked healthy and happy and enjoyed playing.
The match against Honduras at neighboring Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium began with a precise touch rhythm for Scaroni’s team, but constant friction forced a halt after 20 minutes.
Honduras applied a recipe from the past with Hector Castellanos’ personal brand on Messi. ‘Leo’ participated in the first goal, scoring Martinez’s goal with an accurate pass to Alejandro ‘Pap’ Gomez.
The “flea” then approved of the punished Locelso. A demolition in the 45th minute led to the Argentinian captain’s first goal in the match, playing in a packed stadium with a capacity of 75,000 spectators, allowing Scaroni to draw the conclusion and ultimately to keep the line-up complete. It worked as a thermometer.Presented at World.
In the second half Albiceleste’s helmsman got the chance to shoot a young player. Julián Alvarez replaced Lautaro and Enso Fernández replaced Leandro Paredes.
Then came the mistakes of Honduras and the great definition of Messi. Messi has emulated the prowess he recently displayed at PSG after a rather gray first season in French football.
“I feel a lot different than last year. I had a bad time and didn’t find myself,” Messi said of his first season after leaving Barcelona. Arrived with a different head, having adapted to the club and his teammates.”
Honduras and Jamaica don’t look like serious rivals (neither will be attending the meeting in Qatar in November), but Argentina has signed up to play against the CONCACAF team, showing its commitment to Mexico. I’m thinking of preparing for World Cup group stage.
Honduras was last in the CONCACAF qualifiers.
Albiceleste, the 1978 and 1986 world champions, will face Saudi Arabia on November 22 in Group C of the World Cup, which also includes Mexico and Poland.
Scaroni said Mexico is a great team.
“She is definitely one of the best. She can make things difficult for us,” warned the Argentinian helmsman. “It can complicate things.”
Next on the schedule is Tuesday’s game against Jamaica in Harrison, New Jersey. On November 16th, six days before his World Cup debut, Argentina will face the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi.
Scaroni’s team has a record of 34 games unbeaten with 23 wins and 11 draws. The last time he fell was on his 2nd July 2019, when Brazil won his 2–0 victory.
Editor: AP journalist Débora Rey contributed this information from Buenos Aires.