Messi urges Argentina team-mates to keep up the pace

Argentina forward Lionel Messi has praised his side’s showing in their 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Paraguay.

The Albiceleste took the lead minutes into the tie courtesy of a Angel Di Maria effort, with Gonzalo Higuain and the 25-year-old also finding the net to help the Argentines move to the top of their group, but the Barcelona star has warned his team-mates that their task is far from complete.

“Being top of the table is not important. We have to do as well as we can,” the Barcelona ace told reporters following the match.

“I messed up my first header and it hit the post. The first free kick was also an unlucky one, but luckily I was able to score [my third chance].

“We knew they would close it up at the back, how they would come and play and what was at stake. We made a quick opening, then they scored a penalty but we recovered and put in a good game.”

Messi’s compatriot Angel Di Maria, has also expressed his delight at the victory, and believes his nation are on course to reach the tournament.

“We wanted to make the fans happy,” the Real Madrid forward explained.

“The team is good. We have to keep it up and improve on some things, but we are on track to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.”

The Seleccion will look to build on their recent win when they take on Peru on September 12.

Cartoon of the Day: Blatter salutes 'general' Ronaldo & hails 'magician' Messi

Fifa president Sepp Blatter believes both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are “living legends” in the world of football.

The 76-year-old feels the two players are different on the pitch but thinks they possess rare quality, and he believes the Real Madrid man dominates the game while the Barcelona star lights up matches with moments of pure magic.

“Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Both! They are different but both fantastic for football,” Blatter was quoted as saying by Marca.

“Cristiano wants to be the general on the pitch, lay down the law and scream here I stand. Messi, on the other hand, is like a conjurer, a magician. They are both living legends of football.”

Blatter salutes ‘general’ Ronaldo and hails ‘magician’ Messi

Benzema: France need to continue in this vein

Karim Benzema has voiced his delight with France’s 1-0 victory over Finland in Friday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The Real Madrid striker played a key role in les Bleus‘ win as he set up Abou Diaby for the only goal of the game, and Benzema feels he’s slowly starting to hit top form again.

“We need to continue in this vein. Both in attack and in defence, we started very well and we opened the scoring early. We were less good in the second half but we rolled up our sleeves and fought hard,” Benzema was quoted as saying on the Ligue 1 website.

“I’m very happy to have set up Abou Diaby. For me, an assist is the same as scoring. I felt good out there. I’m starting to come back, get stronger, but the most important thing is that everyone played well tonight.

“It was a good game against a good team that defended very well and also tackled pretty hard. There were some moments when we struggled, but we held on and we won.”

France resume match action on Tuesday when they take on Belarus.

Falcao would be perfect for Real Madrid, says Vitor Baia

Former Portugal international Vitor Baia feels that Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao would fit right in at Real Madrid, whereas he feels Barcelona would have to change their playing style in order to accommodate the prolific striker.

Falcao has been in impressive form in the opening weeks of the 2012-13 campaign with hat-tricks against Athletic Bilbao and Chelsea, and is continually being linked with a move to a bigger club.

The Colombia international’s father revealed earlier in September that the attacker dreams of playing for Real Madrid, and even though Falcao has since dismissed those claims, Vitor Baia feels¬†Los Blancos would be a good option for him.

“Falcao would fit in perfectly at Mourinho’s Madrid, he’d really suit Jose’s system,” the former goalkeeper told La Xarxa.

“Barcelona, on the other hand, would have to change their style, although it would be a luxury of a problem for Tito to find a way to have him in the team together with Messi.

“Falcao is a phenomenon, a monster. He’s an old-fashioned forward who does it all. With Falcao in my team, I’d be a very happy man. He’s a top player who could play for any side. He’s complete.”

The 26-year-old, who has a contract with Atletico until the summer of 2016, scored the first goal of Colombia’s 4-0 win over Uruguay on Friday.

Ronaldo is not sad, he is fine, says Portugal team-mate Nani

Portugal midfielder Nani says his international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo is fine, dismissing reports that the Real Madrid star is unhappy.

Ronaldo refused to celebrate¬†after scoring twice for Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid in their victory over Granada, citing a professional dispute with the club in the mixed zone following the game as the reason behind his lack of joy at finding the back of the net.

However, the 27-year-old did celebrate his equaliser for Portugal against Luxembourg.

Manchester United and fellow Portugal midfielder Nani pointed to the celebration when asked what the situation regarding Ronaldo is.

Nani told Marca: “Ronaldo’s fine. Haven’t you seen him? He’s not sad, he’s fine.”

Helder Postiga gave Portugal the lead in the second half and Ronaldo was also the first to congratulate the Real Zaragoza forward.

Portugal host Azerbaijan in their second World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.