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            Messi searching for 'rhythm' to finish year on high


            SAN JUAN, Argentina, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi said Tuesday he is still working to regain peak physical fitness after overcoming knee and hamstring injuries.

            Messi admitted he was lacking sharpness in Argentina's goalless home draw with Brazil in a World Cup qualifier here on Tuesday, his first full 90 minutes since October 24.

            "I haven't played in a long time. It was a very intense game and I still need to get rhythm," the 34-year-old told reporters after the match.

            Messi played in an uncustomary midfield role as Argentina sought to dictate terms against Brazil. The tactic worked as the hosts controlled almost 60% of possession.

            But Lionel Scaloni's men rarely troubled Brazil goalkeeper Alisson and it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score, with Vinicius Junior, Fred and Matheus Cunha all threatening Emiliano Martinez's goal.

            Messi had just one attempt on target: a late effort from outside the penalty area that was comfortably saved by Alisson.

            "I'm fine, but physically obviously not in the best condition," he said. I've been out for a long time and it's not easy to play a game with such high intensity. But luckily I'm fine and I hope to finish the year well."

            On Friday, Messi made a 14-minute cameo appearance off the bench in Argentina's 1-0 win over Uruguay in Montevideo.

            The former Barcelona star said the Albiceleste were not unhappy with the result against five-time World Cup champions Brazil despite having set out to win.

            "We went into the match thinking that we could win," he said. "We tried to play our best football but it wasn't easy. It was a tight match with a lot of friction. We weren't able to win but the important thing is that we didn't lose. We played well and continue to improve." Enditem

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