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Messi mania grips City of Joy

By Pabitra gogoi

KOLKATA, Sept 1 � Nobody can deny the fact that Lionel Messi is not only the best player of Barcelona FC but the whole world as well. Wherever he moves, people start following him, his performance. After some uncertainty, Messi finally arrived here in the wee hours on Wednesday travelling half way across the world after playing a La Liga match against Villarreal in Spain.

Immediately after Messi�s arrival here for the international friendly against Venezuela on Friday, the environment here took a drastic change and people started queuing up for tickets at the Mohammedan Sporting ground. The demand for tickets shot up like mercury.

Despite gloomy weather conditions and a slight drizzle, people of the football-crazy city are all excited at the moment they will get a sight of their hero. Although media accreditation were distributed by the organisers � Celebrity Management Group from Tuesday onwards � lots of mediapersons were seen at the Calcutta Sports Journalists Club at Maidan here collecting their cards.

There are reasons why the match is getting so much hype. First of all it will be the maiden international match for both Messi and Alegandro Sebella as captain and coach respectively of the Argentina national team. Moreover, after their Copa America debacle in July which cost coach Sergio Batista�s job, Sabella has a big responsibility to build this team for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Messi also has been made captain of the team for the next three years. Sabella on Wednesday said in a press conference that Argentina will start its 2014 World Cup campaign from the Kolkata match. It�s really a significant statement as after Kolkata, the team will play another international at Dhaka on September 6 against Nigeria.

Along side Messi, established players like Gonzalo Higuain, Angel di Maria Javier Pastore, Ever Banega and Javier Mascherano will also be seen in action tomorrow. However, Diego Maradona�s son in-law Sergio Aguero my not be in the starting line-up. Yesterday and today the full Argentina team had a good workout session at the match venue � Salt Lake Stadium. The Venezuela team however could not get any practice yesterday as the jerseys of the players were misplaced while travelling.

Although Argentina are favourites to win the match, their opponent Venezuela is also no more a pushover. They are determined to put up a spirited show despite their underdog tag. Their coach Ceser Farias believes they have every possibility of stunning the star-studded Argentina as Venezuela was the fourth team in the recently concluded Copa America. Farias said his boys are quite familiar with the artificial turf and hope to do better than their opponents tomorrow.

On the other hand, Argentina coach Sabella admitted that a artificial turf is not a normal situation for their players. �We are not used to playing in artificial turfs. It�s not a normal situation for us. But we will try to adapt and play a good game�, said Sabella.

Although there is some drizzle, the overall weather condition here is quite conducive for a good match. A capacity crowd of 1 lakh is expected for the match and the football crazy people might will be witness to some magical touches from some of the greats in football.

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Messi mania grips City of Joy

KOLKATA, Sept 1 � Nobody can deny the fact that Lionel Messi is not only the best player of Barcelona FC but the whole world as well. Wherever he moves, people start following him, his performance. After some uncertainty, Messi finally arrived here in the wee hours on Wednesday travelling half way across the world after playing a La Liga match against Villarreal in Spain.

Immediately after Messi�s arrival here for the international friendly against Venezuela on Friday, the environment here took a drastic change and people started queuing up for tickets at the Mohammedan Sporting ground. The demand for tickets shot up like mercury.

Despite gloomy weather conditions and a slight drizzle, people of the football-crazy city are all excited at the moment they will get a sight of their hero. Although media accreditation were distributed by the organisers � Celebrity Management Group from Tuesday onwards � lots of mediapersons were seen at the Calcutta Sports Journalists Club at Maidan here collecting their cards.

There are reasons why the match is getting so much hype. First of all it will be the maiden international match for both Messi and Alegandro Sebella as captain and coach respectively of the Argentina national team. Moreover, after their Copa America debacle in July which cost coach Sergio Batista�s job, Sabella has a big responsibility to build this team for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Messi also has been made captain of the team for the next three years. Sabella on Wednesday said in a press conference that Argentina will start its 2014 World Cup campaign from the Kolkata match. It�s really a significant statement as after Kolkata, the team will play another international at Dhaka on September 6 against Nigeria.

Along side Messi, established players like Gonzalo Higuain, Angel di Maria Javier Pastore, Ever Banega and Javier Mascherano will also be seen in action tomorrow. However, Diego Maradona�s son in-law Sergio Aguero my not be in the starting line-up. Yesterday and today the full Argentina team had a good workout session at the match venue � Salt Lake Stadium. The Venezuela team however could not get any practice yesterday as the jerseys of the players were misplaced while travelling.

Although Argentina are favourites to win the match, their opponent Venezuela is also no more a pushover. They are determined to put up a spirited show despite their underdog tag. Their coach Ceser Farias believes they have every possibility of stunning the star-studded Argentina as Venezuela was the fourth team in the recently concluded Copa America. Farias said his boys are quite familiar with the artificial turf and hope to do better than their opponents tomorrow.

On the other hand, Argentina coach Sabella admitted that a artificial turf is not a normal situation for their players. �We are not used to playing in artificial turfs. It�s not a normal situation for us. But we will try to adapt and play a good game�, said Sabella.

Although there is some drizzle, the overall weather condition here is quite conducive for a good match. A capacity crowd of 1 lakh is expected for the match and the football crazy people might will be witness to some magical touches from some of the greats in football.