Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to face the “phenomenal” Lionel Messi, having only encountered the Argentine superstar in video games before.
Martinelli is part of the Brazil squad preparing to play against the reigning world champions at the Maracanã on Tuesday.
This match holds significant importance in the qualification race for the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Even though Messi will be a star attraction in Rio de Janeiro, opponents like Martinelli are excited about sharing the pitch with the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Martinelli, at 22 years old, acknowledges Messi’s status as a phenomenal player, considering him the best in the world once again this year.
I want to enjoy the moment of being able to play against him, being in the same stadium as him, and watching him up close because I’ve only seen him in video games. It’s going to be a wonderful experience.”
The intense rivalry between Brazil and Argentina will persist when they face each other, but for Gabriel Martinelli, the opportunity to share the field with his football idol, Lionel Messi, is a moment to relish. There might even be a desire to exchange shirts with Messi at the end of the match.