Just three days ago Lionel Messi was at his usual sparkling best as he set up both goals in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey triumph against Sevilla – his 28th trophy with the Catalan club.
Now, Messi immediately has to shift his focus to the Copa America Centenario, where Argentina are looking to end a 23-year trophy drought.
The 28-year-old left Barcelona on Tuesday and will link up with his Argentina team-mates ahead of Friday’s international friendly against Honduras in San Juan.
The match at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario is Argentina’s only warm-up game before their Copa America tournament begins on June 6 with a 2015 final rematch against defending champions Chile.
Argentina – who have lost all three of their final appearances since winning the tournament in 1993 – also face Bolivia and Panama in Group D, and are looking to end their trophyless run at the special edition of the South American continental competition in the United States.
Messi is expected to play against Honduras but both Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore may miss out through injury, with the former unsure of the extent of a hamstring strain suffered playing for Hebei China Fortune.
The 31-year-old was a surprise inclusion in Gerardo Martino’s final 23-man squad, with the in-form Paulo Dybala and Carlos Tevez forced to miss out.
However, Lavezzi defended his spot in the team, saying: “I do not look at what others say. I know every time I have been chosen to play, I’ve done it well.
“In recent times I have performed well for the national team. I am self-critical and after the World Cup [in 2014] I got better and that’s why I am here. I like playing for the national team.”
Honduras, meanwhile, were not invited to the Copa America, and will be using this game to prepare for their CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in September.
“What we are least thinking about is coming home with a thrashing,” said Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
“This team has put in great performances against big national teams like Brazil, Mexico and United States… we will put in a great game.
The Colombian added: “I love the way Messi plays. I’ve already come up against him, and we are training to work out how to control him. Let’s see how it goes.”
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