Argentina boss explains why Messi didn't play

Tata Martino believes it wasn't worth risking the Barcelona star.

American fans were left hugely disappointed at the FedEx Field in Washington, when the Argentina side took to the pitch against El Salvador, without their biggest star... Lionel Messi.

Whilst Argentina went on to win the game 2-0, thanks to a deflected strike from Sevilla attacking midfielder, Ever Banega, then a late second by Independiente winger Federico Mancuello on his international début, the overall performance of the team was hardly stellar.

It was a lacklustre performance from La Albiceleste which highlighted the disappointment of fans attending, they cried out for the appearance of Lionel Messi, with reports over previous days having suggested the Barcelona star would be fit for the encounter. However, he remained firmly seated on the bench.

In a press conference via AS, the result and performance of the team was almost a secondary matter, as news of Messi was still the centre of attention for gathered journalists. When questioned why 'La Pulga' (the flea) hadn't participated, Argentina head-coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino explained:

"The first day he trained well, the second he was in some discomfort and the third, it was difficult for him to even put his boots on."

At the suggestion that Messi could have made a token appearance for just a few minutes, to appease the disgruntled fans at the FedEx on Saturday, Martino underlined:

"We can all understand the desire of the fans to watch him play, but he really couldn't. It was a matter of taking care of him. Leo always tries to play if he can."

Having previously gone to great lengths, to allay fears about the foot injury and fitness of Messi, Argentina even sent the player to a specialist in Washington, in order to assure fans the footballing genius was in fine fettle. Clearly, the injury is worse than had been feared.

So, when asked if Messi has any chance of an outing in the next match, against Ecuador next Tuesday at the MetLife Stadium, the Argentina coach responded bluntly:

"We're going to wait until the last minute, but we're not going to take any risks with Messi. If he's still the way he is now, he's not going to play next Tuesday. We need to look after him."

Although that would suggest there's still a chance adoring American fans of Lionel Messi might yet get to see him play, it's looking highly unlikely at this time.

Meanwhile, and at such a crucial stage in the season, Barcelona fans will be worried that their star player could miss important encounters as they chase a treble haul of silverware.

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