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Messi on bench as Argentina face Italy

Fans in Manchester were left disappointed as Lionel Messi was only named among the substitutes for Argentina’s glamour friendly against Italy at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium on Friday.

According to reports in the Argentine and Spanish press, Barcelona forward Messi suffered an adductor strain in training on Thursday.

Ahead of a busy end to the club season and leading his country at the World Cup, Messi wasn’t going to risk aggravating the problem. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was replaced in the starting line-up by Paris Saint-Germain’s Giovani Lo Celso. Barcelona are on course to win the third treble of La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey in Messi’s career. The Catalans lead La Liga by 11 points, face Roma in the Champions League quarter-finals later this month and play Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on April 21. And at 30, the World Cup could be Messi’s final opportunity to crown his glorious career by winning a major international tournament with Argentina for the first time. It remains to be seen if Messi features in Argentina’s next World Cup warm-up friendly against Spain in Madrid on Tuesday.

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