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Messi on bench for Argentina in WC qualifier

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Messi on bench for Argentina in WC qualifier

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Lionel Messi was not in Argentina‘s starting XI for their World Cup qualifier against Paraguay on Thursday, but he was included in the squad as a substitute.

Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina is 2-0 in CONMEBOL qualifying thus far, having beaten Ecuador 1-0 and BolĂ­via 3-0 in September, but Messi did not play against Bolivia after picking up leg injury in their first match.

That injury forced Messi to miss a chunk of games for club side Inter Miami CF as the team missed the MLS Cup playoffs after a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati on Saturday.

The Argentine superstar’s participation in Thursday’s qualifier had been in doubt in the run-up to the game, with Scaloni saying on Wednesday the decision whether or not to play would be left entirely up to Messi.

Messi led Miami to the club’s first trophy with a win in the inaugural Leagues Cup competition between MLS and Liga MX sides in August, but his team came up short in the final of the U.S. Open Cup — a game Messi missed due to his injury — and also fell short of reaching the MLS postseason down the stretch.

The World Cup winner has been nothing short of amazing since joining Miami in July, scoring 11 goals in 13 matches he played for the team. Miami went 8-1-4 when he played, but only 1-3-2 in the six matches he missed through injury.

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