Etebo Beats Messi To Highest Rate Of Successful Take-Ons At 2018 World Cup

Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo is the player with the highest percentage of take-ons so far at the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.

This was confirmed by football facts and statistics website Squawka Football on their verified Twitter handle on Wednesday.

According to Squawka Football, Etebo’s 88.89% successful take-ons rate is higher than any player to attempt 10+ so far.

Etebo failed just two take-ons at the 2018 World Cup, with 18 attempted and 16 completed.

Etebo has therefore been more successful at dribbles than superstars Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.

He was in action in all the Super Eagles’ group games.

Messi: Super Eagles Made Us Suffer

Argentina skipper Lionel Messi has admitted the Super Eagles made them suffer in their nervy 2-1 win in Tuesday’s Group D Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup clash.

Messi gave Argentina the lead early in the first half before Victor Moses drew the Super Eagles level.

But with four minutes left Marcos Rojo scored the winner to take Argentina through to the round of 16.

“We suffered a lot,” Messi said on FIFA.com.

“There was a lot at stake. It was a huge relief, a relief for all of us. We didn’t think we would suffer this much.”

And ahead of their round of 16 clash against France, Messi said they will be prepared for a tough game.

“We have watched every single France game. We follow every game. France is a very good team with skilled individual players. They have very fast players who can really make a difference. I know what we will have to do. It will be a very tough game, no doubt.”

Messi: I Must Win World Cup Before I Retire

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has vowed to win the World Cup before he retires from football.

Messi, who clocked 31 on Sunday, was quoted in the Mirror as saying: “It means so much because for Argentina the World Cup is special – and for me too.

“I’ve always had the dream of watching me raise the World Cup. And then seeing the emotion that goes with it.

“My hair stands on end just thinking about that moment. It would make millions of Argentine’s in the world happy.

“So we cannot give up on that dream.

“I have won all the most important tournaments but I am ambitious to the end. I would not like to retire from active football without being a world champion with my country.”

Messi and his Argentina teammates face elimination from the Russia 2018 World Cup on Tuesday as any result other than victory against the Super Eagles will send the Brazil 2014 finalists packing.

Argentina: World Cup Squad Is The ‘Worst In Their History’ Says Ossie Ardiles

Argentina’s World Cup squad is the “worst in their history” and not even “the best player in the world” can make them competitive, says Ossie Ardiles.

Thursday’s 3-0 defeat by Croatia has put Jorge Sampaoli’s side at risk of an early exit from the tournament.

World Cup winner Ardiles, 65, criticised Sampaoli’s tactics and over reliance on captain Lionel Messi.

The former Argentine midfielder said the “prestige” of the two-time World Champions had been “thrown overboard”.

“From world champion to being the worst national team in Argentina history. Where to begin?” the former Tottenham player tweeted.

Argentina, who drew their first group game 1-1 with Iceland, are no longer in control of their own destiny in reaching the last-16, with one game remaining against Nigeria on Tuesday.

Messi Bags Hat-Trick As Argentina Maul Haiti In Friendly

Super Eagles’s Russia 2018 World Cup Group D opponents, Argentina, stepped up their preparation for the Mundial with a 4-0 win over Haiti in a friendly game in the early hours of Wednesday (Nigerian time) in Buenos Aires.

Barcelona star and La Albiceleste captain, Lionel Messi, scored an hat-trick to take his international tally to 64 goals in 124 appearances.

He also set up Manchester City’s striker Sergio Aguero who came on for Gonzalo Higuain in the second half to score the fourth goal in the 69th minute.

Messi broke the deadlock in the 17th minute converting a penalty after Lo Celso was brought down in the penalty area under a rash challenge from Ricardo Ade.

In the second half, Messi made it 2-0 in the 58th minute side-footing in a rebound after Lo Celso’s close-range header was blocked.

The Barca star grabbed his hat-trick eight minutes later firing in a cut back pass from Cristian Pavon.

Argentina, 2014 World Cup finalists, will face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D in Russia.

The two time World Cup winners, will face Israel in another international friendly on June 9 before starting their World Cup campaign against Iceland seven days later.

I’ll Never Play For Another European Club – Messi

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi says he is “increasingly sure” that he will never play for another European club.

Messi, who has spent his whole senior career with Barca, scoring 552 goals, has been linked with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the past.

The 30-year-old suggested that he could return to his homeland in Argentina to play for Newell’s Old Boys.

“I always said I wanted to play in Argentine football one day,” Messi told Argentine television station El Trece.

“I don’t know if it will happen but I have it in my mind. It would be at Newell’s, nowhere else. I would like to do that for at least six months, but you never know what will happen.

“I’m increasingly sure that in Europe, Barcelona will be my only club.”

Messi, who is with the Argentina squad preparing for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, started out at Newell’s Old Boys before joining Barcelona aged 13.

He signed a new deal with Barcelona last November which runs until 2021 and has a buyout clause of 700m euros (£612m).

Messi has won a Fifa Under-20 World Cup and Olympic gold medal with his country but has yet to win a senior international competition, losing the final in the 2014 World Cup and three Copas America.

However, he says he does not regret choosing to play for his native country rather than Spain, who won the World Cup in 2010.

“The other day I was talking to a friend and he told me ‘if you had chosen Spain, you’d be a World Cup winner already’, but it wouldn’t have been the same,” added Messi.

“Obviously in no moment did I think about doing that. To win it with Argentina would be something unique.”

Russia 2018: We Aren’t The Best Nor The Favourites – Messi

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has urged his compatriots to be realistic in their World Cup expectations, warning that other teams heading to Russia are better.

In an interview with Argentine Canal 13, Messi also discussed why he did not take the chance to play for Spain and said that Barcelona will be his only European club.

“People need to know that we are not going to Russia as favourites but we have a group of very good players and we are ready to scrap,” Messi said.

Asked if Argentina could win the World Cup, Messi swerved between hope and realism.

“I believe so, I have faith in this team,” he said.

“We have players with talent and experience. We cannot send the message that we are the best, because that’s not true.”

“Quite a few squads are better,” he said singling out Brazil, Spain and Germany.

Messi has won multiple Champions League and Club World Cup titles with Barca.

But he “would swap any one of those titles with Barcelona” for a World Cup win.

Messi moved to Barcelona at the age of 13 and would have been eligible to play for Spain.

“The other day I was talking to a friend and he said to me: ‘Look, if you had stayed with Spain, you would be world champion’,” Messi said.

“But it wouldn’t have been the same. Obviously, it never crossed my mind at any time.”

Messi repeated that he dreams not only of playing for Argentina but in Argentina, preferably for his boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys.

“I am more and more clear that, in Europe, Barcelona is going to be my only home,” he said. “I’ve always said that I want to play someday in Argentina.”

“It would be Newell’s, no one else. I’d like to do that for at least six months, but you never know what is going to happen.”

In Russia, Argentina will face Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in what he called “a complicated group”.

Iceland, he said, “compete with anybody” pointing to their surprising run at Euro 2016.

Nigeria, Messi said, are “always tough for us”. He missed the friendly in Krasnodar in November that Nigeria won 4-2. The countries have met four times in the World Cup and Argentina have won by one goal every time.

Messi compared Croatia to Spain “for controlling the ball, the quality of their midfield players”.

“We have to think we will finish first in this group, but it won’t be easy.”

Argentina play Haiti on Tuesday in Buenos Aires and Israel on June 9 in Jerusalem in their two warm up games.

AFP

Messi Eager To Banish 2014 World Cup Disappointment By Winning In Russia

Argentine captain, Lionel Messi says winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is the only way to overcome the heartache of losing the 2014 FIFA World Cup final to Germany.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, will lead Argentina against Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D as they target their third FIFA World Cup title.

Messi explains his motivation to return to international football with La Albiceleste after announcing his retirement.

“After saying the words, I thought about it with a cool head and realised that leaving the national team gave the wrong message to the youngsters and the people who fight for their dreams. You have to keep trying,” Messi told TyC Sports.

“The fact we were finalists and weren’t able to win is a weight that we carry. We want to overcome that barrier.”

Messi also added that Argentina’s 6-1 loss to Spain in an international friendly in March, was not a true reflection of La Albiceleste’s performance.

“It was a false result because Argentina were much better in the first half, had more possession for quite some time, and that’s not at all easy.”

Our Superiority Gave Us 25th La Liga Title – Messi

Lionel Messi revelled in Barcelona’s seventh La Liga title in 10 seasons on Sunday, saying his team were “far superior” to their domestic rivals during their double-winning campaign.

The Argentinian star scored a brilliant 30th La Liga hat-trick as Barca survived a scare to beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-2, wrapping up the club’s 25th league title with four matches to spare and keeping their hopes of an unbeaten season alive.

“We have been far superior to our rivals, we haven’t lost a match during the whole season,” Messi told Barcelona’s in-house television channel.

“It’s a very special Liga in that sense because we haven’t lost a single match. We’ve had some tough times and we’ve overcome everything without losing, which is unbelievable.”

Regaining the top-flight crown from Real Madrid also secured Barcelona their third double in four years after thrashing Sevilla 5-0 in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final.

The only blemish on their season was a stunning Champions League quarter-final loss to Roma when they blew a 4-1 first-leg lead to be dumped out at the Stadio Olimpico.

“We lost just one in the Cup and disappointingly another in the Champions League,” added Messi, who leads the La Liga scoring charts with 32 goals this term.

“That was an unexpected result in view of our shape. But we take a lot of merit to win a title as difficult as this without losing a game.”

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also paid tribute to captain Andres Iniesta.

The 33-year-old midfielder came off the bench in the 87th minute at Deportivo to make his 670th Barcelona appearance just two days after announcing that he will leave the club at the end of the season.

“It’s a shame for us and the club, but he deserved to go like that,” said Messi.

“We deplore what happened in the Champions League, it prevented him from going out with a treble, but he’s leaving in an impressive fashion.

“This double is more than deserved for Andres, for all he has given to this club. I am very happy for him and wish him all the best.”

AFP

Messi Hat-trick Seals Barca’s 25th Title In Style

Barcelona claimed their 25th La Liga title on Sunday as a Lionel Messi hat-trick secured a thrilling 4-2 victory at Deportivo La Coruna that wrapped up the league with four matches to spare.

Ernesto Valverde’s men completed a league and cup double after thrashing Sevilla 5-0 in last week’s Copa del Rey final, regaining the Spanish crown from Real Madrid and relegating Deportivo in the process.

The only blip on the Catalans’ season was the stunning Champions League quarter-final loss at Roma when they blew a 4-1 first-leg lead.

“We have managed an almost perfect league campaign, without losing so far. I hope we can continue,” midfielder Sergio Busquets told Spanish broadcaster Movistar.

“This season was very good, almost excellent. The Champions League is a regret but we managed a double, it’s fantastic.”

Barca knew they just had to extend their record unbeaten streak to 41 La Liga matches to seal a seventh title in 10 seasons, and Philippe Coutinho fired them into an early lead.

Messi’s 38th-minute volley made it two, but Lucas Perez pulled one back for Deportivo before half-time and Turkish winger Emre Colak stunned Barca with an equaliser midway through the second period.

Barca finally saw off their stubborn hosts, though, as Messi pounced after a brilliant one-two with Luis Suarez before slotting in to complete his 30th La Liga treble.

The Catalan giants now hold an unassailable 11-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, who have just three games to play, and are closing in on becoming the first Spanish side to go through a top-flight season without tasting defeat.

Andres Iniesta was surprisingly left on the bench after the midfield great announced earlier this week that he will leave the club at the end of the season.

But it was his expected long-term successor Coutinho who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, bending an exquisite finish into the top corner for his third La Liga goal for the club since signing from Liverpool in January.

Deportivo had to win to stave off relegation for another week, but Clarence Seedorf’s men were denied an equaliser when Perez was flagged offside after tapping in from close range.

Messi went close to doubling the advantage just before the half-hour mark, only for home goalkeeper Ruben to pull off an excellent one-handed save to turn his free-kick around the post.

AFP

Maradona To Messi: Focus On Winning World Cup

Legendary Argentine midfielder, Diego Maradona, has urged Lionel Messi to put behind him Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League exit and prepare well with the Albiceleste as they target their third title at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona were sent out of the Champions League on superior away goals by a Italian side, AS Roma after the Blaugrana threw away a 4-1 first leg lead losing 3-0 in the second leg to crash out 4-4 on aggregate onTuesday night.

Maradona told daniarcucci.com that the exit of Barcelona could be a blessing in disguise for the Argentina captain who he thinks will be well rested for the World Cup in Russia to win it.

“Messi, today, he can go and lift the World Cup in Russia, the only thing I would tell him is to prepare himself, as I did with Professor Del Monte, before Mexico, to prepare himself for the World Cup in Russia,” Maradona told daniarcucci.com.

“Because Barcelona is lost, it is more than done, they have no problem. ,The La Liga and the Copa Del Rey will be theirs at the end of the season.

 

“As I told Napoli: ‘I love you a lot, I gave you a lot, but now my priority is the national team.”

“And so you can go and lift the Cup in Russia. It is essential that he (Messi) prepare himself mentally and physically for his last chance.”

Maradona also advised Jorge Sampaoli, to pick Manchester United’s goalkeeper Sergio Romero as his first choice for the World Cup ahead of River Plates’ Franco Armani.

​”Armani is a good goalkeeper, Chiquito Romero is a great goalkeeper,” he said.​