Palacio's dream of playing alongside Messi can happen

Mustapha "El Loco" Kamaruddin speaks on Palacio's dream of playing with Messi for Argentina and weighs in on their chances in the World Cup Qualifier against Venezuela


Who does not want to play alongside Lionel Messi?

And we are talking about the Argentine national team involved in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

So it's not surprising to know that ‘unknown’ Rodrigo Palacio is eagerly anticipating this chance to team up with the Barcelona superstar against Venezuela on Friday (local time) at the Manumental in Buenos Aires.

And he may learn a thing or two from the four-time Fifa Ballon d'Or winner in the process.

Inter striker Palacio, 31, received a call-up to the Argentina squad after a string of good performances at club level.

Palacio is now tied with compatriot Diego Milito with nine goals each as Inter's top scorers in the current Serie A season.

"I think that for me and for the other players it's already an honour to have Messi with us in the team," Palacio told ESPN Deportes.

"It will be a dream to play alongside him.

"I always try to play in the same way and stay true to myself.

"We're all trying to stay close to him in order to take advantage of the opportunity to learn something from him and improve."

And the chances are that Palacio may well see action - at least as a substitute against Venezuela.

After all, Argentina will not have the services of striker Sergio Aguero and winger Angel Di Maria because of injury and suspension respectively.

Coach Alejandro Sabella may be tempted to use the in-form Palacio especially if things do not go that well in attack.

Messi, Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi of Paris Saint-Germain are poised to start upfront.

The 31-year-old Palacio, for the record, can operate as a back-up striker and a winger.


Palacio has sufficient as he has already 10 caps with a goal to show.

He was also with the Argentina team for the 2006 World Cup when Jose Pekerman was the coach.

Club football?

Palacio started off his career with Argentine club Huracan where played from 2002 to 2003 and scored 15 goals from 53 matches.

He then moved on with another Argentine club Banfield from 2003 to 2005 where he played 36 matches and scored nine goals.

Then he was with Boca Juniors from 2005 to 2009 where he netted 54 goals from 131 games.

He was off to Italy in the middle of 2009 where he signed up for Genoa and scored 35 goals from 90 matches while he was there.

It was this season then he signed for Inter.

Argentina are on top of the Conmebol qualification campaign with 20 points from nine games,   holding a three-point lead over second-placed Ecuador.

Fast-improving Venezuela are in fourth place with 12 points.

Sabella is set play Santos playmaker Walter Montillo to partner Fernando Gago of Velez Sarsfield and Barca's Javier Mascherano in the middle of an attacking Albiceleste line-up.

Argentina seem to have also improved in defence with Benfica's fast-improving Ezequiel Garay leading the cast.

Assisting Garay should be Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City, Getafe's Federico Fernandez and Marcos Rojo of Sporting Lisbon.

Sampdoria's Sergio Romero is expected to be in goal.

So who will win?

Argentina. Unless of course, they suffer a dive in form and Venezuela take advantage of this.