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.