Fans swarm to watch stars

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Jun 2018 11:11:07


Messi the star attraction

BRONNITSY (Russia),

(AFP)

AROUND 400 eager fans turned out at Argentina’s World Cup base camp to catch a glimpse of Lionel Messi and his team-mates at an open training session. A particularly affectionate welcome was reserved for the Barcelona forward, as hordes of adoring young supporters chanted “Messi, Messi” on his way out for an hour-long practice on Monday.After several days of chilly temperatures in the Russian capital, overcast skies gave way to sunshine, with excited locals packing a temporary stand in Bronnitsy, southeast of Moscow, to follow the action. Injury had already struck Argentina on the eve of their departure for the tournament, with West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini ruled out with a serious knee injury.

Enzo Perez was summoned as a replacement for Lanzini, although the status of Ever Banega for Argentina’s first group game against Iceland on June 16 remains uncertain after the Sevilla midfielder trained alone.The odd Messi mask was spotted in the crowd, while others waved Barcelona flags, as well as those of Argentina. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was then mobbed by dozens of youngsters at the end of the session as players stopped to sign autographs.

Ernesto Lagorio, Argentina’s ambassador to Russia, was at the session at the sprawling training centre, used by several Russian national sports teams, on the banks of the River Moscow. “We came to see our national team, it’s the first acquaintance with them, it’s been great,” Lagorio told AFP. “We’ve already been to Bronnitsy several times, we’ve worked a lot with the authorities and the mayor. He’s helped us a lot, it’s been in the works for several months.” Asked whether he would be attending matches, he replied: “I hope to show up until the final match in July.”

 

SOCHI, 

(AFP),

BRAZIL attracted an army of excited youngsters -- including one who managed to break onto the pitch for a selfie -- as they held their first training session on Russian soil ahead of the World Cup.Around 5,000 locals turned out to watch the relaxed session at the Yug-Sport Stadium, next to the Brazilian squad’s hotel in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.Tuesday is a national holiday in Russia and many fans opted for vantage points along the road leading to the stadium, while others filled the stand.

One young boy broke through security barriers and managed to get close to a group of Brazil players including Neymar, taking a photograph before being led away. However, most fans contented themselves with chanting the name of the world’s most expensive player, who arrived with his team-mates in Russia in the early hours of Monday fresh from scoring in a 3-0 friendly win over Austria in Vienna.

Members of the Selecao also had a treat in store for Philippe Coutinho, marking the Barcelona midfielder’s 26th birthday by pinning him to the ground, breaking an egg over his head and covering him in flour. Those who started the final pre-World Cup warm-up against Austria spent most of Tuesday’s session apart from the rest of Tite’s squad, while Manchester United-bound midfielder Fred was not involved as he continues to nurse an ankle injury.Brazil play their opening game at the tournament on Sunday, when they take on Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don. They will also come up against Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.