New Argentina coach aims for collective approach with Messi

Philippe Coutinho

Brazil and Argentina renew their rivalry in a friendly in Melbourne, Australia on Friday.

But the Argentine manager boasts an accomplished record, having overseen Chile at the 2014 World Cup and then guiding them to the 2015 Copa America triumph before going on to impress at La Liga club Sevilla.

Messi is tipped to start on Friday, as are Juventus pair Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain and Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria.

"The game is more of a special occasion (to celebrate the FAS' 125th anniversary) and comes after the Brazil match, so I was expecting some of the stars might not play at the end of the day", said administrator Kenneth Chong, 33, who has bought tickets to the game.

Sampaoli, who lauded Messi for leaving his vacation to play in the blockbuster at the MCG, said the friendly against Brazil gave him a chance to assess their partnership ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers later in the year.

For one of the most titled teams of the whole world, the national team of Brazil, the situation to date is the best.

The freakish situation adds intrigue and tension, with their last camp ending with the sacking of Edgardo Bauza after a 2-0 loss to Bolivia, which left Argentina in fifth - which is a playoff spot - and 11 points behind leaders Brazil.

His predecessor, Edgardo Bauza, was sacked in April after a 2-0 defeat to Bolivia left the two-time world champions fifth in qualifying with only the top-four teams guaranteed to make the tournament.

"I really hope that the abilities that he shows as a leader and as a player will help Argentina improve".

Separately, The Clarin, Argentina's biggest daily newspaper, reported yesterday that Messi's absence in Singapore was "an open secret", and that he wanted to be with his loved ones as he finalises preparations for his June 30 wedding to Antonella Roccuzzo, the mother of his two sons Thiago and Mateo. "We need to take advantage of this".

The 24-year-old was rewarded with a place in the Argentina national team as a result of his good form in the Premier League and is looking forward to making his national team debut against Brazil in Melbourne on Friday.

"It's a boost for us to see how excited he is with this new stage (for Argentina)".

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