In a re-run of their last-16 clash at the World Cup, Argentina and Australia are set to face each other in a friendly game in Beijing on Thursday. The two teams last met in the World Cup, where Argentina’s skipper Lionel Messi scored and terrorised the Socceroos in a 2-1 win. Messi and Argentina went on to win the World Cup.
Despite the friendly nature of the game, Australia’s coach Graham Arnold has said that his team will do everything they can to stop Messi. “Regarding Lionel Messi, how could you not respect someone who’s done what he’s done in football?” Arnold told reporters at the 68,000-capacity Workers’ Stadium.
Tickets for Thursday’s game have sold out rapidly despite soaring prices, with Chinese fans desperate to see Messi in the flesh.
Arnold has taken a young squad to China after numerous players were ruled out with injury. “We have a younger squad of players here, up-and-coming players who we’re looking at over the next four years to (see if we) can qualify for the next World Cup,” he said.
In terms of the predicted lineups, Argentina is expected to field Martinez; Montiel, Otamendi, Romero, Acuna; De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister; Messi, Simeone, and Garnacho.
Meanwhile, Australia is expected to field Ryan; Atkinson, Souttar, Rowles, King; McGree, Metcalfe, Hrustic; Leckie, Maclaren, and Borrello.
The game is set to kick off at 5:30 PM IST at the Workers Stadium in Beijing and will be live-streamed in the VUSports app.