World Cup briefing: Lionel Messi says Argentina are not favourites to win in Russia
VAR will be used for retrospective red cards and the German squad is training hard
Messi: we will give it our all in Russia
Lionel Messi has played down Argentina’s chances of winning the World Cup but says the squad will go to Russia and “give it our all”.
The Argentines only qualified for the World Cup after Messi’s sublime hat-trick secured a 3-1 victory in the must-win match against Ecuador last October. Then, on 28 March, their preparations took a major hit when they were thrashed 6-1 by Spain in Madrid.
Messi hit another treble for his country in the 4-0 friendly win against Haiti last night. After the match the Barcelona star admitted his side were not tipped to lift the trophy in Moscow but were working hard ahead of the finals.
Quoted by the BBC, he said: “We’re not going as favourites but will give it our all. More than the result we were able to say goodbye to our fans. We had a complicated time in the qualifiers, but we are training well.”
Argentina face Iceland in their first World Cup group D game on 16 June followed by matches against Croatia on 21 June and Nigeria on 26 June.
VAR to issue ‘retrospective red cards’ at World Cup
The International Football Association Board (Ifab) has confirmed that the video assistant referee (VAR) can issue a red card for off-the-ball incidents missed by on-field officials.
The Guardian reports that VAR will be used for the first time at a World Cup this summer. Thirteen dedicated officials have been selected by Fifa.
David Elleray, Ifab’s technical director, told The Times: “If there is something away from the action that has been missed and it later comes to the attention of the VAR or the assistant VAR, then they can inform the referee and he can send the player off, even if it is later in the match. We do not anticipate this happening very often… this would only be for serious red-card offences.”
No holding back in Germany training
The Germany squad is training hard ahead of their World Cup title defence in Russia – almost too hard judging by some of the challenges.
The Daily Mail reports that after a strong tackle by Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger on Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich the duo had to be separated as they squared up to each other. ESPN also adds that PSG midfielder Julian Draxler was floored by an accidental elbow from Manchester City’s Leroy Sane. Germany head coach Joachim Low will name his final 23-man squad before 4 June.
Peru beat young Scotland side
Peru continued their World Cup preparations with a 2-0 victory against an inexperienced Scotland in Lima last night. Christian Cueva opened the scoring with a penalty after 37 minutes before Jefferson Farfan doubled Peru’s lead with a second two minutes after half-time. The South Americans have two final World Cup warm-up matches – against Saudi Arabia in Switzerland on Sunday and then against Sweden on 9 June in Gothenburg.