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Messi at the Maracana, Deschamps returns – FIFA.com


The FIFA World Cup™ returns to the Maracana on day four at Brazil 2014, when Argentina star Lionel Messi will make his tournament entrance at the same legendary venue. After a low-key season by his own stratospheric standards, the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner is certain to come under close scrutiny. Will he cope with the pressure? Can he make the same instant impact as his rival and Barcelona team-mate Neymar, who racked up a pair of goals on opening day? Despite the late kick-off time for European audiences, the whole planet will be fascinated to watch the first impressions left by the man hoping to follow in Diego Maradona’s footsteps.

Elsewhere, two ambitious European sides are set to begin their respective bids. A World Cup winner in 1998, Didier Deschamps will be keen for his charges to start with a win against Honduras, though the former France captain is too experienced to underestimate a team still chasing a first finals win after six outings. Switzerland, meanwhile, topped their qualifying group and have announced their intention to at least match their best ever World Cup performance, a quarter-final spot in 1954. As for opponents Ecuador, they were the last CONMEBOL side to qualify and are desperate to pay homage to emblematic forward Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez, who died tragically on 29 July aged 27. via – FIFA.com

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