Messi’s fitness remains in doubt ahead of Copa America quarter-final | Pro Hub of News

HOUSTON: Ahead of Thursday’s Copa America quarter-final against Ecuador, star footballer Lionel Messi’s fitness remains uncertain, with coach Lionel Scaloni stating that a decision on his participation will be made after assessing his condition.

Messi sat out Argentina’s last group stage match, a 2-0 victory over Peru, due to discomfort in his right hamstring.

“We’ll wait a few hours and then decide. It’s better to have an extra day,” Scaloni told reporters at a press conference.

“Yesterday, he showed positive signs, and today’s training session will determine our decision,” he added.

Scaloni emphasized that he will discuss Messi’s readiness directly with the 37-year-old.

“We’ll attempt to involve him, and if he’s not fit, we’ll find the best solution for the team. I’ll talk to him today. It’s important that he takes the necessary time and trains adequately,” Scaloni explained.

During the match against Peru, Scaloni made nine changes to the starting lineup, rotating his squad after securing qualification for the knockout stage.

If Messi is unable to start against Ecuador, Scaloni mentioned the possibility of deploying Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez as twin strikers.

“Lautaro is currently in excellent form, having scored four goals in the Copa, including a brace against Peru, while Alvarez also contributed in the opening match against Canada,” Scaloni noted.

“They have played together against this opponent before. We’ll finalize our decision after today’s training session. They’ve been training well together, so it’s a viable option,” he added.

Ecuador’s coach, Felix Sanchez, anticipates a formidable Argentine team regardless of Messi’s availability.

“We know Argentina is a top-level team. Messi is a game-changer, but we’ve faced them with and without him before,” Sanchez commented.

“Their approach doesn’t change much. They have a cohesive squad under Scaloni’s guidance, and we’ve prepared accordingly,” he concluded.