Today at the world cup: Argentina and France prepare for openers

Lionel Messi’s Argentina and defending champions France are among the teams getting their campaigns under way as the opening round of World Cup group matches continues on Tuesday.

On Monday, England made an impressive start by thrashing Iran 6-2, Gareth Bale’s late penalty secured Wales a 1-1 draw with the United States in the other Group B game, and there was also victory for the Netherlands over Senegal.

Here, the PA news agency rounds up events in Qatar.

Messi on his fitness

Messi (left) in training ahead of Argentina’s World Cup opener (Jorge Saenz/AP).
The 35-year-old captain told a press conference: “I’m very well physically, good condition. I have no issues whatsoever.

“I heard there were rumours about having to miss part of the training, or training apart from the team because of a blow – it was just precautions, nothing strange or out of the ordinary.”

Messi – at his fifth World Cup, having come closest to claiming the trophy when Argentina finished as runners-up in 2014 – also said he was “aware that this is a very special moment – it is most likely my last World Cup, the last opportunity to make my dream, our dream, a reality.”

France staying calm after Benzema withdrawalBoss Didier Deschamps admits Les Bleus are without some of their bigger characters but believes those who remain have not been too badly affected, saying: “We have enough players who are able to stimulate, get others going, talk in the dressing rooms, on the pitch, on the sidelines.

“There’s no apprehension. We have done everything possible. There’s no anxiety, everyone is calm and there are cool heads.”

Also in action on Tuesday are Denmark and Tunisia in this group, and Mexico and Poland in Group C.

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