Ahead of the FIFA World Cup, Lionel Messi-led Argentina are training in the UAE capital.
The star-studded squad took part in an open training session at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Monday evening.
‘La Albiceleste’ will also play a warm-up match against the UAE national team at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The match day tickets were sold-out in 24 hours. The frenzy for Messi and Argentina is such that on Monday, fans started thronging the Al Nahyan Stadium hours before the scheduled training time of 6pm.
“I came here with my friends by 3 pm. We are all die-hard fans of Messi and Argentina. Vamos, Vamos Argentina,” said a fan outside the stadium where thousands gathered to wish the team ahead of the World Cup.
Argentina, along with Brazil, enter each World Cup as the favourites and this time it’s no different.
Since 2019, Argentina are on an unbeaten run of 35 games. They won the Copa America by defeating arch-rivals Brazil.
However, they haven’t won the World Cup for a long time with previous victories coming long back in 1978 and 1986. They finished runners-up in the 2014 edition of the World Cup.
Significantly, this could be the last World Cup for seven-time Ballon D'or winner Messi. The 35-year-old icon, who is Argentina's most capped player and all-time top scorer, would want to leave on a high.
The pre-World Cup camp being hosted in Abu Dhabi is a result of a strategic cooperation agreement between the Argentina Football Association (AFA) and Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
Apart from hosting Argentina for a preparation camp for the World Cup, the SuperCopa Argentina finals will be played for four consecutive years in Abu Dhabi starting from January 2023 until the year 2026.
On November 22, Argentina will start their World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia – another team that has trained in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, the Uruguayan national team will be having an open training session at the New York University Abu Dhabi stadium on Tuesday evening.
Uruguayan veterans Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin are preparing to feature in their fourth World Cup.
It is understood that the UAE with three venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — are favourites to host the tournament but the decision has been withheld for the time being
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