Argentina forward Lucas Pratto claims Brazil are afraid of Lionel Messi

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Thursday will see CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying leaders Brazil host rivals Argentina in Belo Horizonte.

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The stakes are high for Argentina, who are five points adrift of Brazil in sixth after 10 matches, and Pratto heaped pressure on the hosts with five-time Ballon d’Or Messi back in the squad having missed the past three qualifiers due to a knee injury.

“They know that Leo is very tough. They are a little scared,” Pratto – based in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro – told Argentine newspaper Ole.

“Or maybe more than a little.”

While the 29-year-old Barcelona star was injured, Argentina lost to Paraguay and drew with Peru and Venezuela.

Brazil, meanwhile, have won four consecutive qualifiers.

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