Messi wary of England threat
Argentina forward keen to replicate club form for country
Last Updated: May 28, 2010 12:45pm
Messi: Backing England
Argentina striker Lionel Messi insists England will be one of the top teams to watch out for at the World Cup.
The Barcelona maestro plys his trade in Spain's Primera Liga, but reckons the strength of the Premier League could put England among the leading contenders to succeed in South Africa.
Many people's favourites for the tournament, which starts two weeks today, are Spain and Brazil, but the 22-year-old puts Fabio Capello's side in the same category.
"I think that right now, the strongest sides going into the World Cup are Spain, England and Brazil," he told CNN International.
"They had a strong, easy qualifying and are very tough."
Messi was coy about his own side's chances, despite a strike force that boasts Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito.
"Hopefully, it will be my World Cup, Argentina's World Cup and that we hit the ground running and play up to people's expectations and win the World Cup," he said.
Messi has had another stellar season with Barcelona, winning another Primera Division title under Pep Guardiola and playing at a consistently high level which has seen him hailed as one of the greatest players in history.
There is still a feeling in Argentina, however, that he does not reproduce that form at international level.
"People have an opinion and I respect it," he said. "I'm the first person who wants to do well with my national team and perform like I do with Barcelona.
"I know that this is a really good opportunity for me and I'm going to try to do it."
He continued: "At Barcelona, Guardiola decided to use me more in the middle and that's when I had more touches on the ball and played more around the front of the area.
"And well, I've had the luck to be able to score more goals."