Argentina’s Lionel Messi will be available to face Colombia in Friday’s World Cup qualifier, after being cleared by medical staff at his club, Spanish side Barcelona.
Messi’s involvement in the tie had been in doubt due to a pulled hamstring that kept him on the sidelines for the last three weeks of the Spanish season, but according to Colombian daily El Espectador, the Argentinian management on Friday received the word from Barcelona’s medical staff, putting the man generally agreed to be the best player in the world at their disposal.
The good news for Colombia is that Messi isn’t expected to start, with Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella reportedly not wanting to rush his star player back into action. “From a medical point of view he’s fine, but I have to take into account the lack of match practice he has had” said Sabella, whose Argentina side lead the qualifying group by four points, followed by Ecuador and Colombia.
A win for the Argentine side would all but guarantee qualification and while there is more pressure on Colombia, they too go into tonight’s game in a good position to book their tickets to Brazil in 2014, needing only two more wins from a remaining seven games to ensure their route to the finals.
Though Colombia haven’t qualified for a World Cup since France ’98, this year the Colombian team has taken advantage of the automatic qualification of hosts Brazil, the poor form of highly rated Uruguay and the rise of several talented players including Radamel Falcao, Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez, losing only two games since the start of 2012 and becoming many people’s pick as a potential surprise package come Brazil.