Lionel Scaloni stated that he left Lionel Messi out of Argentina’s matchday roster for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying victory over Bolivia due to the forward’s illness.
“He informed me that he wasn’t feeling well,” Scaloni told ESPN Argentina. “It didn’t make sense, it was going to be risky for him to come on in the second half, the high altitude is a difficult location. “It made no sense.”
The Inter Miami striker was replaced late in Argentina’s Thursday victory over Ecuador after scoring the game’s only goal on a free kick.
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Scaloni stated after the game that Messi “felt something,” while Messi himself stated that he was simply “a little bit tired.”
Scaloni did not include him in the starting lineup or among the substitutes for Tuesday’s second round of 2026 World Cup qualifying matches.
Messi traveled to the high-altitude Bolivian capital and sat on the bench at the Estadio Hernández Siles to witness Argentina defeat Bolivia 3-0 with goals from Enzo Fernández and Sergio Aguero. Nicholas Gonzalez and Nicolás Tagliafico.
Scaloni inserted Benfica winger Angel Di Maria into the starting lineup as captain alongside Manchester City striker Julián lvarez and Fiorentina’s González in place of Messi.
After the victory, Di Maria remarked, “To be given the captain’s armband by the best player in the world is unreal; I’m very proud.”
Messi’s absence will have disappointed many Bolivians, including the tens of thousands of local fans who gathered Sunday evening to greet him to the country.
Since joining MLS side Miami in July, Messi has been in sensational form, scoring 11 goals in as many games while helping the club win the Leagues Cup, reach the U.S. Open Cup final, and re-enter the playoff competition in the MLS’ Eastern Conference.
Saturday’s road match against Atlanta United will be Miami’s opportunity to welcome back Messi.