Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said Tuesday he expects captain and star striker Lionel Messi to arrive at the World Cup in peak form after he battled fatigue at the 2014 tournament.
“We’ve spoken with Leo about what’s happening and that he doesn’t find himself in the same situation four years ago when he arrived exhausted at the World Cup (in Brazil),” Sampaoli said at a news conference.
The former Chile and Sevilla coach added the goal was to ensure that Messi “makes the most of his rest periods to arrive (in Russia) at the top of his physical and mental form”.
Messi scored four goals as Argentina reached the final in Brazil, but he cut a peripheral figure in the latter stages as his side finished runners-up to Germany following a 1-0 defeat after extra time.
Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986 with Diego Maradona inspiring the country to a second title. In Russia, they will face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.