Lionel Messi braces up for world cup weight

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Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has acknowledged that his head is already in Russia, where he will be aiming to cap a remarkable career by winning the World Cup.

The Albiceleste have endured a series of disappointments at recent major tournaments, stumbling at the final hurdle in the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Copa America.

The quest for redemption will begin on June 16 when Jorge Sampaoli’s side confront Iceland in their first group match at Spartak stadium in Moscow.

“The World Cup is getting closer and my head is there, but here [in Barcelona] I also have important things,” Messi told Argentina’s La Cornisa television program on Sunday.

“It’s amazing, people are telling me they want us to win, but I try to live day to day and not burn stages. What makes me forget everything is to be with my children, my wife, my family. The rest is secondary. The birth of my first son made me not close myself in to football. I don’t like to lose … but you can’t always win,” he added.

When asked how he would handle the pressure in Russia, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said: “I’ve become used to it. I try to be natural and not think about the fact that people are constantly looking at [me],” Messi continued.

Bidding for a third World Cup title and their first since 1986, Argentina have been drawn in the same group as Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

“I imagine being in that final [in Moscow on July 15] and lifting the trophy,” said Messi, who added that the team’s defeat to Germany in extra-time of the 2014 edition in Brazil still evokes pain.

“It [World Cup glory] is a lifelong dream and every time that a World Cup approaches the dream becomes a little stronger. The 2014 final was painful because we came so close. Winning a World Cup is what we all want,” Messi concluded. Enditem

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