Russia face Argentina at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, as the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts take on the South American giants in an international friendly on Saturday.
Lionel Messi is in the squad for La Albiceleste’s trip, which also includes an additional friendly against Nigeria at the Krasnodar Stadium in Russia.
Argentina scraped into the World Cup finals, as they qualified from the CONMEBOL group after winning their last qualification match.
A 3-1 victory in Ecuador was enough to propel Messi and Co. to a place at Russia 2018.
Here is how you can watch the game:
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11
Time: 1 p.m. (GMT)/8 a.m. (ET)
Both teams enter the friendly unbeaten in their last five in all competitions, but Argentina will be desperate to forget the trauma of World Cup qualification after almost missing out on the finals.
Messi was the hero as he smashed a hat-trick past Ecuador, and his side grabbed the win to advance in third spot.
The Argentinians lacked their usual clinical edge, scoring just 19 goals in their 18 qualification matches, compared to Brazil’s 41 strikes as they topped proceedings.
Russia have played a series of friendly matches over the past two years due to their status as hosts at the World Cup, and this is often a tricky path for nations as they prepare for major competition.
Argentina will provide Russia with the calibre of opponent they need to face, and Messi’s presence will spice up the encounter if he is selected to start.
The Luzhniki is being re-opened on Saturday ahead of the World Cup, with Argentina’s Leandro Paredes calling the venue “an amazing stadium.”
Speaking to FIFA.com, the Zenit Saint Petersburg midfielder commented about life in the Russian Premier League:
“They ask us how we’re finding things here and how we’ve settled in. It goes without saying that most of the questions are about the weather and if it’s cold. We’re the only guys in the national team who play so far to the north. We don’t speak about the World Cup just yet; there’s still too long to go until it starts.
“The Luzhniki is an amazing stadium. It’s looking modern and beautiful after its reconstruction, but I believe our stadium in Saint Petersburg is as good. I’m sure the World Cup in Russia will be wonderful and our home ground will be one of the showpiece arenas.”
It will be no surprise if a different Argentina emerges for this game, with the strain of qualification in the past.
Messi has started this season in fine fettle with Barcelona, and he dragged his country through the group when hope was evaporating.
However, Russia will not want to be embarrassed at home.
It is a huge honour for the Russians to host the World Cup, and they will want to put on a capable display against one of the most fabled nations at the tournament.