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Messi, Argentina set to pull a big crowd in Beijing exhibition game against Australia

Updated: 2023-06-14 14:22
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Lionel Messi gestures to Chinese fans on a bus as he and other members of the Argentina national soccer team return to their hotel from practicing in Beijing June 13, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

Lionel Messi and his World Cup-winning Argentina teammates are expected to draw almost 70,000 fans to Beijing Worker's Stadium for an exhibition against Australia.

With tickets starting at around $80 for Thursday's game, local supporters are excited to see Messi and continue the World Cup celebrations. Fans have flocked to all opportunities to see the Argentine star since the team arrived in China, with large crowds angling for photographs and chanting his name.

Messi's move to "continue my path" in Miami last week made global headlines after he turned down extremely lucrative offers from Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia in favor of Major League Soccer.

He said that after winning the World Cup, it was his time to go the United States and "live football in another way." Before then, he's with the Argentina squad that is scheduled to play Australia in the Chinese capital and take on Indonesia in Jakarta four days later.

Australia coach Graham Arnold said he was looking forward to giving a selection of young players some valuable experience.

"There's no better team to test yourself against than he best in the world," Arnold said in an interview for Chinese TV. "It's going to be great for the players — not only the players, but for everyone here in China and back in Australia — to see Lionel Messi play.

"He's such a wonderful player and obviously best in the world. To have those privileges to test yourself against him, it's important." Messi led Argentina to a 2-1 win over the Australians in the Round of 16 at the World Cup last year in Qatar.


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