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 By Tim Vickery

Lionel Messi likely to have a big role in shaping Argentina's World Cup squad

After Argentina conceded six goals in their friendly against Spain, the ESPN FC guys discuss how much should be read into the result.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is off for another round of "shuttle diplomacy", where he will travel through Europe meeting with his key players. The first port of call, logically enough, is Barcelona for a sit down with Lionel Messi.

It is entirely likely that their chat will not be limited to a coach asking a player about his current physical condition. The chances are that the two of them will sit down and, in effect, pick the squad. It is a perfectly reasonable deduction that Messi, Argentina's...

Andres Iniesta earns 9/10 with incredible display in last Barca final

Barcelona's relentless attack pummeled Sevilla to become the first team since 1933 to win Copa del Rey four years in a row.
Andres Iniesta is presented the Copa del Rey trophy by King Felipe VI after Barcelona defeated Sevilla to win their 30th Spanish cup.
Andres Iniesta gets emotional as fans of both Barcelona and Sevilla give him a standing ovation as he leaves the pitch.

Barcelona romped to a 5-0 victory over Sevilla on Saturday to win the Copa del Rey for the fourth year running and a record 30th time. A domestic double now appears inevitable.

Luis Suarez struck twice, Lionel Messi and man of the match Andres Iniesta scored once each and Philippe Coutinho fired home the fifth from the penalty spot to seal a special victory that helps to heal the wounds caused by Barcelona's Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Roma.


Barcelona effectively sealed the...

If I smack Lionel Messi, I can't go back to Argentina - Sevilla's Gabriel Mercado

Shaka Hislop, Craig Burley and Stevie Nicol discuss whether Barcelona's record-breaking La Liga unbeaten run has been overshadowed by their Champions League exit.
Barcelona's draw with Celta secured the longest unbeaten streak in La Liga history, but Craig Burley thinks they'll be defined by their UCL exit to Roma.

Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado has the unenviable task of trying to stop Argentina teammate and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in Saturday's Copa del Rey final, and joked he will be in trouble in his homeland if he is too physical on the Albiceleste captain.

Knowing that everyone back home in South America will be watching, Mercado joked ahead of the game at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium: "If I smack him [Messi], I will not be able to return to Argentina."

Mercado, likely to be included in...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

When do Barcelona and Real Madrid play El Clasico in 2017-18?

El Clasico is one of the most anticipated matchups of the European football calendar.

Barcelona and Real Madrid face each other twice in La Liga during the season.

Their first meeting took place on Dec. 23 at the Bernabeu in Madrid; Barcelona won 3-0.

The return game will be played on May 6 at the Camp Nou in Barcelona; kickoff is 2:45 p.m. ET / 7:45 p.m. BST.


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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi must be on different clubs - Pini Zahavi

The ESPN FC crew debate whether or not Lionel Messi receives less criticism than Cristiano Ronaldo after a bad game.
The ESPN FC crew debate whether or not Lionel Messi receives less criticism than Cristiano Ronaldo after a bad game.

Football super-agent Pini Zahavi has suggested Neymar is unlikely to move to Real Madrid while Cristiano Ronaldo is still there, telling Polish news outlet Przeglad Sportowy there is only room for one superstar per team.

But Zahavi also called his new client Robert Lewandowski the "best forward in the world," following a report last month that claimed he had reached an agreement in principle for the Bayern Munich striker to move to the Bernabeu this summer.

Zahavi, who helped broker...

Lionel Messi guilty of disappearing but Barcelona tainting his legacy

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti explains why Roma's comeback is one of their greatest moments in Europe, while the FC crew delve into where things went wrong for Barcelona.
Roma came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to defeat Barcelona on away goals as they advance to the Champions League semifinals.
Roma came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to defeat Barcelona on away goals as they advance to the Champions League semifinals.
Sergio Busquets expressed his disappointment after Roma thrashed Barcelona 3-0 on Tuesday night to end Catalans Champions League campaign.

The soul-searching didn't wait until Wednesday in Barcelona. It began on Tuesday, as soon as the final whistle blew at the Stadio Olimpico and Roma's place in the Champions League semifinal was confirmed. Barcelona and Lionel Messi, for the third season in a row and the fourth time in five years, were kicked out of Europe in the last eight.

"Barca spent the whole game waiting for a miracle from Messi," the director of Catalan newspaper Diario Sport, Ernest Folch, wrote  in the minutes...