Lionel Messi says he is cautious about Argentina’s prospects as he prepares to lead the team at the World Cup to lift the trophy in Qatar to cap a glittering career.
The South American side have won the trophy twice – in 1978 and 1986 – with Messi a losing finalist in 2014.
“We are very excited,” Messi said in an interview with CONMEBOL, the South American football federation.
“We have a very good group that is very keen, but we think about going slowly. We know that World Cup teams are not easy.
Argentina’s opening match at the World Cup is against Saudi Arabia on 22 November in Group C, which also includes Mexico and Poland.
It will play its final friendly against the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
“We hope to start the World Cup in the best possible way so that we can face whatever comes next,” said Messi, who joined the rest of the team in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward highlighted the strength of a team led by Lionel Scaloni and the advantage of being an established team, which won the Copa America last year.
“The more you play and the more time you spend on the pitch, the more you get to know each other,” he added. “We know each other’s specialties and what works best for each moment.”
The forward said he doubts there will be a surprise winner of the World Cup.
“Whenever we talk about candidates, we always talk about the same team,” he said. “If I had to put something above I think Brazil, France and England are a little above the rest.
“But the World Cup is so difficult and so complicated that anything can happen.”
Messi, who is possibly playing his last World Cup at the age of 35, said he had adapted perfectly to life in Paris after a difficult first year following his move from boyhood club Barcelona.
He said, “After a year-long process that took a long time, today I am happy where I live and that my family and I are enjoying Paris.”
Messi played for PSG on Sunday before joining his Argentina teammates in Abu Dhabi, where he took part in a training session open to the public.