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Argentina coach wants teammates to step up as Messi returns

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Messi returns but Argentina lose 3-1 to Venezuela

Messi took a sabbatical after his country's early departure from last year's finals in Russian Federation, but he returned with a clean shaven new look to captain the side in the all-South American affair at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

"It's a joy for me and for everyone that he's back", Scaloni told a news conference on Thursday.

Friday was not the first time Messi has suffered from a groin problem, with the Argentine having missed time in 2016 and 2017 due to a similar injury. "I have to try to get the team to accompany him and make the best of it. Let's hope that with Messi's return the team is more empowered". We have been very up front with him and I'm here to help.

The matches mark a return to global football for Lionel Messi, who has also been absent from Argentina's squad since the World Cup.

Messi is Argentina's all-time leading scorer with 65 goals but is yet to win anything with his national team.

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"We have a way of playing and feeling football in these six games we've had". "We need them to give something extra so we can be a great team".

The 24-year-old keeper said it is an "honour" to have him return to the global stage.

"We've played different systems and we're going to do it in the same way, added to his great quality", Scaloni added.

Messi will be in the starting line-up against Venezuela at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano in the Spanish capital.

"The presence of the best player in the world lifts the game's expectation", Dudamel said.

"We will see what happens against Venezuela first", Scaloni said. "The return of Lionel Messi makes the demands on us extremely high".

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