San José (United States) (AFP) – Lionel Messi touched down in California on Friday as Argentina prepared for the possibility that the injured Barcelona superstar may not be fit for next week’s Copa America Centenario showdown with Chile.
Messi arrived in the early hours from Barcelona, where on Thursday he had appeared in court to give evidence in his tax fraud trial which has also embroiled his father.
Messi, who suffered a back injury in a friendly victory against Honduras last week, is uncertain to be fit for Monday’s crucial Group D game against Chile at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
The 28-year-old playmaker was expected to train with his Argentina team-mates later Friday.
Meanwhile team-mates Augusto Fernandez and Nahuel Guzman admitted Friday that Argentina were facing up to the possibility of Messi’s absence against the Chileans.
“It is logical that being the best player in the world it is clear that we all want him to be fit,” Atletico Madrid midfielder Fernandez said, adding that he was confident the squad would cope against the Chileans if Messi was ruled out.
“When you have moments of adversity that’s when the team has to step up,” Fernandez told a press conference.
Guzman said he hoped Messi could recover, but admitted he had been surprised by the Argentina captain’s decision to make a grueling round trip from Spain just to appear in the Honduras friendly.
“It is shocking at some point because it is the captain, it’s Leo. He came to play this game, perhaps without much obligation or necessity, and he ends up getting injured,” the Mexico-based reserve goalkeeper said.
Monday’s game is likely to determine the winner of Group D, with Argentina facing further games against Panama and Bolivia.
Messi is bidding to end Argentina’s 23-year trophy drought after a series of agonizing near-misses in recent years which saw the Albiceleste beaten in both the 2014 World Cup final and 2015 Copa America final.
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family