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Barcelona confident of winning Messi Beijing row

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Jul 2008

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Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola expects world football governing body FIFA will back the club in the on-going wrangle over Argentina’s Lionel Messi’s participation in the Beijing Olympics.

“We expect that FIFA will issue a statement saying that we are right,” Guardiola told a news conference on Monday.

“If they say we are right the player will come here; if not, we will have no other choice but to accept that he will go to the Games.”

The Spanish giants last month said they were reluctant to let the mercurial Messi go to August’s Games as he was needed for early Champions League matches.

The 21-year-old recently expressed his desire to help his country defend their Olympic title, saying: “The Olympic Games are something that I’m not going to be able to play ever again.”

The Olympic tournament begins on August 6 with the final on August 23, but the first leg of the third Champions League preliminary round is scheduled for August 12-13.

In 110 matches for Barcelona over four seasons, Messi has scored 42 goals and in 29 appearances for Argentina he has netted nine times.

He was runner-up to Brazilian Kaka in the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year award.

Argentina have been drawn against Ivory Coast, Australia and Serbia in Group A at the Olympics.

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