Messi on bench for Argentina Copa opener


Santa Clara: Argentina captain Lionel Messi was left out of the starting line-up for his team’s Copa America Centenario opener against Chile here Monday.

Messi, who injured his back in a recent friendly against Honduras, is replaced by Benfica’s Nicolas Gaitan in attack.

It is the first time Messi has not been named in Argentina’s starting line-up during a major tournament since he was left on the bench for a game against Venezuela during the 2007 Copa America.

There were few surprises elsewhere in a powerful Argentina line-up bristling with European based talent despite injuries to Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain both start along with Ever Banega and Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano.

Chile were at full strength, with the core of the team who defeated Argentina in the final of last year’s Copa America starting.

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Bayern Munich’s Arturo Vidal both start.

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