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World Cup Favorites Spain, Argentina Clash; Messi Expected to Return

Lionel Messi missed Argentina's friendly vs. Italy but could suit up against his club teammates and familiar opposition in Tuesday's friendly vs. Spain.
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Spain host Argentina on Tuesday at the new Wanda Metropolitano, with both nations after a convincing performance against big name opposition to aid their respective preparations for the FIFA World Cup.

Spain, who drew with Germany 1-1 on Friday, are looking to assert themselves as a team to fear again going into the tournament, after blitzing through their qualification group.

La Roja failed miserably at the last tournament in Brazil, exiting prematurely at the group stage, and will be hell-bent on regaining their crown as the world's best this time around and so a good run in the lead up will be vital.

Argentina beat Italy 2-0 on Friday and rested a number of stars including Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, who could well return to face Spain.

Now is the time for losAlbicelestes to lay down a marker; the official fourth best team in the world had an extremely rocky qualification campaign, and had their talisman Lionel Messi to thank for essentially dragging them to the finals in Russia with a hat-trick against Ecuador.

Argentina haven't won the World Cup since the famous triumph in 1986 led by Diego Maradona, and will need to be at the races even before the tournament has started to stand a chance of tasting glory this summer.

With top quality expected to turn out for both sides, the games promises to be a great spectacle for the watching neutral.

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Classic Encounter

Argentina 4-1 Spain (Friendly, September 2010)

Spain may have won the World Cup just months prior, but Argentina utterly outplayed the champions in a friendly match not long after.

Argentina only made the quarter finals that year, and probably had some avenging to do after another poor showing on the grandest stage. It may only have been a friendly but they were ruthless in front of goal, with Gonzalo Higuain, the irrepressible Messi, Carlos Tevez and Aguero all scoring past Pepe Reina, with a consolation from Fernando Llorente.

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Key Battles

Nicolas Otamendi vs Diego Costa

Certainly a clash to watch out for. Otamendi has been something of a revelation in the Premier Legaue this season in the Premier League. But he could have a tough evening against Diego Costa, now at Atletico Madrid, of course. The pair had some great physical battles when Costa was in England, and another one could be in the offing at Costa's home stadium on Tuesday.

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Lionel Messi vs Sergio Ramos

Messi didn't feature against Italy on Friday but will probably play a part against Spain. The magician knows most of the team and how they play pretty well, and could seek to pin himself on Sergio Ramos, who has been known to hack Messi down in previous El Clasico encounters.

Sergio Busquets vs Angel Di Maria

Like Messi, Angel Di Maria is likely to have a free roaming role and is the man people forget about when try to contend with the superstar of the team. It will be important for Sergio Busquets to snuff out those mini fires Di Maria tries to spark up.

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Team News


David Silva has been allowed to return home to deal with some personal issues but aside from him, Julen Lopetegui has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. The likes of Dani Parejo, Marco Asensio, Iago Aspas and Lucas Vazquez could all be given a chance to shine.


Jorge Sampaoli could bring back stars such as Sergio Aguero and Messi, and incorporate them with some of the lesser 'nailed on' players such Leandro Paredes and Diego Perotti. Sergio Aguero didn't feature against Italy and is an injury doubt for Tuesday's game.

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Predicted Lineups

Spain (4-3-3): Kepa/Carvajal, Ramos, Pique, Alba/Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta/Asensio, Vazquez, Costa.

Argentina (4-3-3): Romero/Acuna, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico/Paredes, Banega, Lanzini/Messi, Higuain, Di Maria.


One has to hope that both teams will go for the jugular in an attempt to make a big statement before the big tournament in the summer. Spain probably just about edge it on paper across the whole squad, but Argentina do have some incredible attacking players and the sensational Messi - it could be anyone's game.

Prediction: Spain 2-2 Argentina