Lionel Messi is physically ‘really good’ ahead of World Cup final, says Argentina team-mate Emi Martinez


Lionel Messi will be fit and raring to go for Argentina in Sunday’s World Cup final, team-mate Emiliano Martinez has said.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi was in sensational form as La Albiceleste beat Croatia 3-0 in Tuesday’s semi-final in Qatar, scoring the opener from the penalty spot and setting up Julian Alvarez’s second after a dizzying run of form.

Argentina supporters had some concerns when Messi grabbed his hamstring during the early stages of the contest.

But goalkeeper Martinez is sure it was just a toll on the minutes accumulated as Argentina required extra time and penalties to beat the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

“No, no [he’s not hurt],” Martinez said.

“We played 120 minutes against Holland, it was a tough game for him but you can see he wants to finish every game. He’s really good physically and he’s man of the match every game.”

Argentina’s run to the finals was fraught with difficulties after they were stunningly beaten by Saudi Arabia in their opening group game.

It really took some genius from Messi to inspire a 2-0 win over Mexico in their next game, a result that sparked Lionel Scaloni’s men to life in Qatar.

Martinez is of the opinion that everyone outside of Argentina wanted to see them fail in this game.

“I can’t believe we lost the first game, suddenly everything was upside down, we went 36 games unbeaten,” added the Aston Villa goalkeeper.

“The first half in Mexico was a bit sloppy, everyone wanted us to lose, everyone wanted us to lose. We are all fighters and we have 45 million Argentines behind us.”

“We feel the crowd in the streets every time we play, it feels like home, we’re so lucky to have them.”

Argentina will face the winner of the semi-final, which pits defending champions France against surprise package Morocco.

Martinez has no preference for who he will face in the exhibition match.

“They’ve both had incredible runs, both different teams, really whoever comes in, it’s a World Cup final and they know it’s going to be tough,” he said.

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