By 90Min
June 05, 2018

Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi will go to the World Cup in Russia this summer hoping to finally win the first international trophy of his illustrious career, but he claims that pursuit is not an obsession because of the added personal pressure such an outlook brings.

Argentina were in danger of missing out on their first World Cup since 1970 until Messi's hat-trick in the final South American qualifier last October sealed their place in the tournament.

AFP Contributor/GettyImages

Messi walked away with the World Cup Golden Ball as best player four years ago as La Albiceleste reached the final, only to fall at the final hurdle in a narrow defeat against Germany. Since then, Argentina have also lost two Copa America finals.

Yet despite those failures and setbacks, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who recently admitted he would happily swap some of his Barcelona silverware for a taste of international glory, is counting on the famous Argentine spirit to carry the team through this year's World Cup.

"What has most defined Argentines has always been our ability to overcome difficulties that arise," he explained in an interview with Paper magazine, featuring on the cover of the publication alongside a goat to reflect the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) status many people have bestowed on him over the years.

"We have the ability to come together and push ourselves to get out of tough moments, and that is something I value a lot in our people," he added.

"Over the years, I have also realized that it is not good to let your dreams become an obsession. It increases the pressure and reduces the possibility of reaching them."

But, as things stand, Messi feels Argentina will have to build momentum during the World Cup itself if they are to genuinely challenge for the trophy ahead of several elite rivals.

"It will be important to prepare well, because in the qualifiers we were fighting up to the end and we didn't have time to prepare ourselves," the player commented.

"We still have to make ourselves stronger as a team to be in the running to win and be at the same level as other teams like France, Germany, Brazil or Spain. But we have a good group of players and the Argentine team is always going to be a candidate to win, it doesn't matter how we get there.

"We always aim to win and we will try to go slowly but strongly to advance in the competition."

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