Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Messi headlines star-studded Argentina

latan Ibrahimovic will come up against Lionel Messi as Sweden entertain Argentina in Solna on Wednesday. Ibrahimovic and Messi are widely regarded as two of the world's best forwards and both are in the midst of stellar seasons. Sweden's Ibrahimovic has scored 22 goals in 27 appearances for French leaders Paris Saint-Germain, while Argentina's Messi has netted a whopping 39 goals in 29 games for Spanish giants Barcelona. Both teams have named experienced squads for the clash, with Sweden expected to turn to Genoa's Andreas Granqvist and West Bromwich Albion's Jonas Olsson in hope of stopping Messi. Argentina will field a host of established stars, including Messi, Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, to compliment the likes of Cristian Ansaldi and Walter Montillo, who have two caps apiece. Elsewhere, Portugal will seek a return to form against Ecuador in Guimaraes following a string of underwhelming results. Portugal, who trail Group F leaders Russia by five points in European World Cup qualifying, were held to a 1-1 draw against Gabon last time out. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic will be without goalkeeper Petr Cech when they meet Turkey in Manisa. Cech injured his finger in Chelsea's English Premier League clash with Newcastle United at the weekend and will be replaced by Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's Jan Lastuvka in goal. In other friendly matches, Australia will continue their preparations for a crucial World Cup qualifier against Oman when they take on Romania in Malaga. Scotland entertain Estonia in Aberdeen, while Austria travel to Swansea to face Wales and Ireland host Poland in Dublin. Macedonia take on Denmark in Skopje, Switzerland travel to Greece, while Japan are up against Latvia in Kobe. Albania and Georgia clash in Tirana, Malta face an uphill battle against Northern Ireland, and Belgium meet Slovakia in Brugge. Croatia take on South Korea in London, while Russia are up against Iceland and Belarus tackle Hungary in Belek.

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