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Messi to lead Argentina in opening World Cup qualifiers

Messi to lead Argentina in opening World Cup qualifiers
Argentina's Lionel Messi during the International Friendly match, Argentina v Panama at Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 23.
PHOTO: Reuters file

BUENOS AIRES - Lionel Messi will lead world champions Argentina in their opening World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia, the captain's first internationals since joining Major League Football's Inter Miami.

Coach Lionel Scaloni's 32-man squad also features stalwarts including Angel Di Maria, who returned to Benfica this year, and defender Nicolas Otamendi.

They will be joined by youngsters Alan Velasco of FC Dallas, Bruno Zapelli and Lucas Esquivel of Brazilian side Athletico Paranaense, and Lucas Beltran who has joined Italy's Fiorentina.

AS Roma striker Paulo Dybala and Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli were ruled out with injuries.

Argentina host Ecuador in Buenos Aires on Sept 7 and travel to play Bolivia five days later.


Goalkeepers: Juan Musso (Atalanta), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Walter Benitez (PSV Eindhoven), Franco Armani (River Plate).

Defenders: Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Gonzalo Montiel (Nottingham Forest), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Marcos Senesi (Bournemouth), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur), Nicolas Tagliafico (Olympique Lyonnais), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lucas Esquivel (Athletico Paranaense).

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (AS Roma), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Facundo Buonanotte (Brighton & Hove Albion), Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea), Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool), Exequiel Palacios (Bayern Leverkusen) and Bruno Zapelli (Athletico Paranaense).

Forwards: Lucas Beltran (Fiorentina), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City), Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), Alan Velasco (FC Dallas) and Thiago Almada (Atlanta United)

ALSO READ: Messi completes signing for David Beckham's Inter Miami on deal until 2025

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