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Zanetti says Messi is “more a leader than ever” in Argentina

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Doha (AFP) – Former Argentine international player Javier Zanetti said, on Sunday, that Argentine star Lionel Messi is “a leader more than ever” in the Argentine national team, which will face Croatia, on Tuesday, in order to pass to the World Cup final in Qatar.

The former defender, who participated in two World Cup finals with the Albiceleste national team (1998 and 2002), told reporters in Doha that I see him as “a leader more than ever, as he shows it in all matches.”

Messi, 35, was one of the South Americans’ highest points scorers in Qatar, with four goals and two assists in five matches.

Usually measured and calm, the Argentine captain had some clashes with his rivals against the Netherlands (2-2, 4-3) in the quarter-finals, and questioned Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, who criticized him before the match.

Zanetti said, “Messi has always done great things for the Argentine fans since he started playing. He is our captain, our leader and our benchmark. He deserves everything he lives.”

The 49-year-old said he was “happy” and “excited” that his team will reach the final, which will be played on December 18 at Lusail Stadium.

“Argentina have great character, and they believe in what they are doing. It is a mission that has gone from minor to major and today they are just a few days away from a great semi-final against Croatia that could lead them to make history,” he said. .

But he warned of the strength of Luka Modric, the second-placed player in Russia 2018, who eliminated Brazil (1-1, 4-2) on penalties in the previous stage.

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“It’s not at this World Cup, Croatia have been competing well for a long time, and it’s going to be a tough opponent,” he said. “At the World Cup, anything can happen, Brazil are a great team, and also they faced Croatia who believed in them until the end.”

Differences, France and Pele

Zanetti did not dispute the Portuguese players’ criticism of Argentine referee Facundo Tello in their 1-0 defeat by Morocco on Saturday.

Defender Pepe and midfielder Bruno Fernandes said there was a favor to Argentina for lifting the trophy.

“We don’t get into controversy. We are happy that we made it to the semi-finals,” he said.

In addition, it was considered that France is the most likely candidate in the other key, as they will face Morocco, and the neighborhood of the World Cup.

“Looking at France, I think France stands out as one of the favorites to reach the final,” he said.

Zanetti took part in CONMEBOL’s commemoration of former Brazilian star Pele in Doha.

‘O rei’, 82, has been hospitalized in São Paulo since November 29 for a re-evaluation of his chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer that was discovered last year.

A few days later, the hospital reported that he was also being treated for a lung infection, a result, according to his family, of a covid-19 infection he had suffered a few weeks earlier.

Concern about his condition increased after press releases confirmed that he was not responding to chemotherapy and was receiving “palliative care”.

But two of his daughters denied this information and confirmed that their health was “not in danger.”

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“Pele was an admirer of many of us who love football, he was an inspiration. Today, when he is going through a difficult time in his life, we send all the strength to him and his family from here,” Milan (ITA) captain.

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