Lionel Messi has played down an incident in which he was physically sick on the pitch during Argentina’s 0-0 friendly draw with Romania in Bucharest on Wednesday.
Television pictures captured Messi vomiting on the pitch just seven minutes into the game, raising concerns that the attacker had a serious issue or was ill, and recalling similar incidents during an August 2011 Barcelona against Real Madrid Supercopa tie and a World Cup qualifier at altitude in Bolivia in March 2013.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella told his postmatch news conference that his national captain had solved the problem with a drink of water.
“Leo had a problem, some retching,” Sabella. “He took some water and it passed quickly.”
The scoreline in Romania was a surprise as Argentina had fielded a dangerous-looking forward line of Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero, with Angel Di Maria supporting from midfield.
Messi also told the Argentine broadcaster that the poor pitch at the National Arena in Bucharest had not helped him and his teammates break down a packed home defence.
“It is not about making excuses but the condition of the pitch did not help us play a great game,” he said. “We will aim to keep improving in the games that are left [before the World Cup]. We needed to try to play quickly, to move the ball to find spaces, but this could not be done today because you slip over. The pitch was not good.”
Sabella said he was not too worried by the performance, which had some positive aspects.
“We are OK. It is a pity that we could not take many conclusions out of today's game,” the coach said. “We deserved the win. In the first half we had more individual plays than collective moves, and in the second half it was the opposite. They had numerical superiority from the start. As the game went on, we were able to fix that, and we ended up clearly dominating.”