Lionel Messi is on national service as Argentina begins its championship defense in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Football fans may recall vividly the memories of the 2022 FIFA World Cup final, but for the Argentine team,

it is a thing of the past as La Albiceleste prepare to defend their title this week. Messi's team will face Ecuador at the Estadio

Monumental in Buenos Aires in their first competitive match since winning the FIFA World Cup in December last year.

Messi will compete in his sixth World Cup qualifiers this year. Messi will play in his first game for Argentina since joining Major League Soccer

(MLS) club Inter Miami earlier this summer. The reigning champions will meet Bolivia in their second World Cup qualifier at La Paz.

Messi, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, was one of three MLS players chosen by Argentina team management for the first two rounds of World Cup qualifying.

Argentina's World Cup qualifying squad includes Thiago Almada of Atlanta United and Alan Velasco of FC Dallas, in addition to Messi.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni's 32-man squad features stars such as midfielder Angel Di Maria, defender Nicolas Otamendi, and Inter Milan attacker Lautaro Martinez.

With the added strain of defending the championship, Argentina may find the first round of qualifiers challenging. Scaloni stated to AFA Estudio that "the start is always complicated."

"What is coming is very difficult, and the beginning is always complicated." Hopefully, the players arrive healthy and the spectators enjoy seeing the national team.


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