Football

Argentina have score to settle at World Cup: Messi

Argentina captain Lionel Messi admitted that his generation has a score to settle at the World Cup in Russia after a series of agonising near-misses in major tournaments.

"The debt we owe is to ourselves, not to the people. We always give our all, we reached three finals. We haven't been far off," Messi said in an interview with Fox Sports.

Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany 1-0 after extra time and then finished runners-up at successive Copa America tournaments, losing to Chile on penalties in both 2015 and 2016.

"We always take each World Cup as a big opportunity, and now more than ever because an important generation will move on, several players will change," Messi said, ahead of this morning's friendly against Spain in Madrid.

Vice-captain Javier Mascherano has already announced he will retire from international duty after the showpiece tournament, while Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain will all be 30 come the June 14-July 15 Finals.

Messi will turn 31 during the competition. He has yet to make a decision on his Argentina future but would be 35 by the time of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"(In Russia), it will be a good opportunity. Argentina are always candidates for the title because of our image, our history. But this year, we are not favourites," Messi added.

"Spain, Brazil, Germany and France are above us."

Argentina, who beat Italy 2-0 in Manchester last Friday, are in Group D with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Messi revealed that he is still haunted by his misses during the 2014 final.

He said: "I remember I had a chance to score, it was awful how I shot the ball, the way I positioned my foot. Maybe I should have hit that ball in another way, maybe like I did against Chelsea the other day from a similar position." - AFP

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