WHETHER it’s because he lives in the country, plays for one of the biggest clubs in the country or because he’s made some life-long friends, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has expressed his hopes that his native Argentina avoid Spain in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup finals.
“I wouldn’t like to be drawn against Spain, who are one of the rivals we could get in the draw,” Messi told Argentine broadcaster. “For all that they stand for, for all that they have, and I’d rather avoid them. They’d be a very difficult rival.”
Spain, who won the World Cup for the first time in 2010, will be in the pot of second seeds with England, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay when the draw for next year’s tournament takes place in host city Moscow on Friday December 1.
Italy – four-time winners of the World Cup – who are faced with a playoff match against Sweden will also go into the same pot should they actually qualify.
The top eight seeds are made up of the top seven countries that lead the FIFA rankings, plus the host nation Russia. They are Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France.
Lionel Messi, who played in the Argentina side when they lost the last 2014 World Cup Final to Germany rated Brazil, Germany, France and Spain among his favourites to win the title.