Lionel Messi was not named in the Argentina squad to face Bolivia on Tuesday night, but he did feature as an assistant manager. The superstar previously scored a goal against Ecuador last week before picking up a knock late in the game. As a result of the minor injury, head coach Lionel Scaloni elected not to play Messi in Bolivia. However, the playmaker still made an impact from the bench.
Before the fixture, Argentina officials filled out paperwork to allow Messi to be named as an assistant coach. This allowed the 36-year-old World Cup winner the ability to remain with the team on the night. Only players named in the squad and coaches can typically be on the sidelines for a team.
Messi dives into assistant manager role for Argentina
Despite Messi’s absence, Argentina won the match in difficult conditions. Argentina battled Bolivia in La Paz, the highest capital city in the world. For reference, the city sits roughly 11,975 feet above sea level. FIFA temporarily banned the Estadio Hernando Siles, Bolivia’s home stadium from hosting World Cup qualifiers in the past.
The stadium has been the target of gripes for many years. Brazil star Neymar previously called playing at Estadio Hernando Siles “inhumane.” Ahead of a 2018 World Cup qualifier, Brazil players also had to use oxygen masks to prepare for a match against Bolivia.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Argentina duo Alexis Mac Allister and Cristian Romero needed oxygen from tanks. Nevertheless, the visitors endured the tough conditions and thumped the hosts 3-0. Enzo Fernandez, Nicolas Tagliafico, and Nicolas Gonzalez all scored for La Albiceleste on the night.
Miami officials happy to see Messi not feature in game
Inter Miami execs likely breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Messi remain on the bench. The superstar has quite predictably been incredible for his new club. Messi has already racked up 11 goals and five assists in 11 total matches with Miami. He also led the club to their first-ever trophy by hoisting the Leagues Cup title back in August.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Latin America News Agency
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