France forward Kylian Mbappe has played down an injury scare after he limped out of training on Tuesday afternoon as Les Bleus stepped up their preparations for the World Cup.
Didier Deschamps’ squad were taking part in an open training session at the Glebovets Stadium in Istra when Paris St Germain striker Mbappe went down following a challenge with defender Adil Rami.
Here’s what the youngster had to say…
Ozil and Gundogan were both born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents and were targeted by fans during the warm-up friendlies after posing for a picture alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The world champions begin their defence against Mexico in Moscow on Sunday and Low has vowed to protect his two key players.
Watch what we said below:
Lionel Messi is in his prime. He will turn just 31 later this month and has many years left before he brings the curtain down on one of the grandest modern-day careers.
Yet there are those who have long anointed him as the greatest player to ever play the game when he finally does hang up his boots. There are some who claim he already is.
But until the Argentine icon wins an elusive World Cup it would be irresponsible to lavish such high praise on a totemic figure who nevertheless cannot occupy exalted air enjoyed by legends who have won the greatest competition of all – some even multiple times.
Two obvious idols stand out – Brazil behemoth Pele who won three World Cups and is widely regarded as owning the status that Messi covets. The other, of course, is Messi’s magical compatriot, the deadly and devilish Diego Maradona.
While Messi has largely struggled – and still strives – to spark his generation’s Argentina to win that maiden Jules Rimet trophy and third in total for La Albiceleste, prolific Pele led Brazil to their first World Cup in 1958. He was staggeringly just 17 at the time and would go on to hoist the hallowed trophy again in 1962 (his medal was retrospectively awarded in 2007) and 1970.
Maradona, meanwhile, was the driving force behind Argentina’s second success in Mexico 86 as the men in the famous white and sky blue shirts soared to a heavenly second triumph less than a decade after their first.
These victories on the beautiful game’s biggest stage, as well as a myriad of other milestones reached in fantastic careers, saw Pele and Maradona retire as true gods of the game.
Messi is undoubtedly the best player of his generation. But for all his individual brilliance, success domestically and in Europe with Barcelona, he remains a mere mortal, for now.
Pele remains the poster boy for football’s most celebrated nation. The golden-shirted Samba Boys won international football’s biggest prize more than anyone else (five).
Maradona’s nickname in his native language is El Pibe de Oro – Golden Boy – and though Messi is often described as having the golden touch, he cannot yet be valued as highly as this exalted duo.
He is as yet to take a World Cup by storm such as Pele did as a teenager in Sweden 60 years ago, nor as Maradona did 28 years later in Mexico.
In 1958 Pele scored six goals, this despite a knee injury meaning his first game of the tournament was the third group match against the Soviet Union. He scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Wales in the quarter-final, a hat-trick in the 5-2 semi-final mauling of France and a brace in another resounding 5-2 triumph over the hosts in the final.
Maradona, meanwhile, scored a brace, including the ‘Goal of the Century’, in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over England, as well as another double in the 2-0 semi-final victory over Belgium – five goals in total.
Pele registered 12 goals in 14 World Cup appearances; Maradona eight in 21. Up until 2014, Messi had just one in seven (now five in 14).
Even as he came closest to his dream four years ago when Argentina lost 1-0 in the final to Germany, he failed to truly exert his influence.
That might sound ridiculous considering he was named player of the tournament. But Argentina’s presence in the final was as much a triumph of the collective, a workmanlike showing rather than any Messiah-like influence from Messi.
He scored four group stage goals but none in the knockouts as La Albiceleste meandered rather than marauded to the tournament’s showpiece.
When analysing the numbers, Messi is at least comparable to Pele – his 552 club goals in 637 games for Barca earning him an average of 0.86 goals per game. That is some way ahead of Maradona’s 312 goals in 590 games (0.52 goals per game) but still some way off Pele’s 1,033 goals in 1,120 games – scored at a rate of 0.92 goals per game.
There are all kinds of caveats to the goals per game ratio argument. Messi has played for one of the most dominant club sides in European history. And although Maradona also graced the famous Blaugrana colours, he really rose to prominence after being cast out of Spain following a brief two-year tenure, pitching up at Napoli – hardly a giant of Italian football compared to Juventus and the Milans – but a club that he totally transformed.
Pele, meanwhile, never played outside Brazil, while his goalscoring record is also heavily debated.
But what it all comes down to once again is the World Cup – where Pele and Maradona reign supreme.
So, as the 2018 version kicks off, we are again presented with the notion of Messi and his quest to obtain immortality. Will Russia represent his final chance to join the pantheon of football’s greats?
Many fans and experts who already champion Messi as the greatest the game has ever seen may be influenced by Maradona’s wild and often controversial side – especially in latter years. Many will only have seen footage of Pele play.
And yet they did the one thing the greatest talent of our generation has been unable to. Inspire his nation like he inspires his club.
Until he does, to state that Messi is unequivocally better than either is feeble and frankly unfounded.