Argentina forward Lionel Messi: 'Spain team to avoid at World Cup'

Argentina's Lionel Messi tips Brazil, Germany and Spain as the favourites to win next summer's World Cup, admitting that he would like to avoid the latter in particular.

Lionel Messi has admitted that he is keen for Argentina to avoid a potential meeting with Spain at next summer's World Cup finals in Russia.

La Albiceleste left it late to book their spot in the quadrennial competition, relying on their star forward to net a hat-trick in a must-win clash with Ecuador last month.

After struggling over the line on the road to Russia, Messi concedes that Argentina cannot be considered among the favourites to go all the way in seven months' time.

"Spain, Brazil, Germany and France are the teams with the best image at the moment - I think they are the favourites," he told ESPN. "I would not like to face Spain in the group.

"I would prefer to avoid them because of what their team represents, for what they have [in terms of talent]. They'd be a very difficult opponent."

Messi is part of Argentina's squad for their upcoming friendlies against Russia and Nigeria.

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