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Lionel Messi named to Argentina XI in World Cup qualifier against Peru, makes first start since Sept. 20

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After failing to start in Argentina’s last two matches over fitness concerns, Lionel Messi returns to the lineup for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier at Peru.

The World Cup winner starts on the right side of a front three, with Nicolas Gonazlez on the opposite flank and Julian Alvarez playing in the center. Other members of the team that won the World Cup last year also made the lineup, including midfielder Alexis Mac Allister and defender Cristian Romero.

Messi last started for Argentina in their 1-0 win over Ecuador on Sept. 7 when he scored the game’s lone goal. He was then omitted from the squad that beat Bolivia on Sept. 12 over fatigue, and then missed Inter Miami’s match at Atlanta United on Sept. 16. He returned to the lineup for his club when they faced Toronto FC on Sept. 20, but left the match after about a half hour.

He did not return to the pitch until Oct. 7, when he came off the bench in Miami’s win over FC Cincinnati. It paved the way for his return for Argentina on Thursday, when he played 37 minutes in his side’s win over Paraguay.

With three wins out of three, Argentina are off to a perfect start in their campaign to qualify for the 2026 World Cup and have yet to concede a goal. Messi has one goal so far during this spell of games.

Argentina starting XI

Martinez, Montiel, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico, De Paul, Mac Allister, Fernandez, Messi, Alvarez, Gonzalez

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