Mutiu Adepoju: Argentina are strong even without Messi

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Lionel Messi vs Nigeria
The Super Eagles legend feels La Albiceleste remain a solid side without their inspirational skipper ahead of Tuesday’s friendly

Mutiu Adepoju believes Nigeria will not be facing a “lesser” Argentina despite the absence of Lionel Messi.

The Barcelona star will miss La Albiceleste’s friendly against the Super Eagles after withdrawing from the team to return to Spain.

Messi was on from start to finish as the South Americans beat Russia 1-0 in Moscow on Saturday, thanks to Sergio Aguero’s late strike.

However, La Liga Nigeria’s chief who expects a good game does not think the absence of their captain will weaken Jorge Sampaoli's squad when they clash with Gernot Rohr’s men in Krasnodar.

“His [Messi] absence doesn't mean we're facing a lesser Argentina. Argentina will always be Argentina,” Adepoju told Goal.

“The quality of players in that team cannot be written off as they play in top clubs in Europe and even in South America.

Messi PS

“No doubt, Messi is one of the best in the world but his absence doesn't mean Argentina will be a very easy team for the Super Eagles.

“He is the one who moves the ball in the team but other players are equally good, so when we're talking about their striking area, the midfield and the defence, our boys [Super Eagles] must be at their best.”

Both countries have met seven times with Nigeria’s only victory over the two-time world champions recorded on June 1, 2011as Ikechukwu Uche’s brace powered Samson Siasia’s men to a 4-1 victory.

Also, Adepoju insists that not minding the outcome, Gernot Rohr’s men must take plenty of positives which will help their preparations for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

“Whether we lose or not, it doesn't matter because it's a friendly game but it's important we get the positives for our World Cup preparations,” he continued.

“We're playing against Argentina, one of the toughest teams we can face in the World Cup. Playing against them will let us see many things that can help us before the competition.

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“Not thinking about whether we win or win, we just have to take the positives but our players need to put everything and play as if it's a competitive game.”

Adepoju PS