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Messi promises return to form in Brazil WC pressure giving Luiz sleepless nights

SAO PAULO, May 21, (Agencies): Brazil defender David Luiz says he is having sleepless nights worrying about the World Cup, while his team mate Dani Alves describes the intense pressure of being tournament hosts as “delicious”. “We are anxious, I wish it was starting tomorrow,” Luiz said at a commercial event in Sao Paulo on Tuesday. “Some nights we don’t sleep. But that’s all part and parcel. It is a great chance and we are privileged to play a World Cup in front of our own fans. I can’t wait for it to start.” The articulate Chelsea defender said the atmosphere in the Brazil squad was the best he has experienced in more than a decade as a professional player. He added that their unity of purpose would help them to cope with the pressure of playing a home World Cup. “We have to find a balance,” the 27-year-old Luiz told reporters. “Up to a certain point (anxiety) is good, it gets you thinking about the game. But too much is harmful so we’ll have to work on that and that is easier to do as a group.

“This group is very open, everyone has the right to give their opinion, and everyone is going to help each other.” He added: “We really want this, our group is true in all we do, there is a great atmosphere. “We are happy, anxious and we have two more games in which we’ll make last-minute adjustments and be ready to start with maximum force.” Brazil kick off the World Cup against Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo and then face Mexico and Cameroon in their other Group A games. They play two warm-up matches against Panama in Goiania on June 3 and then Serbia in Sao Paulo on June 6. The host nation are favourites to lift a record-extending sixth World Cup, but they will come under pressure from their often fickle fans. Barcelona’s Alves said that although Brazil’s 23-man squad might not have much World Cup experience they have all played at the highest levels and will not be fazed.

“It’s a delicious pressure, it’s pressure we like to feel,” he told reporters. “I think that you conquer things when you are challenged, if you are not challenged then it is hard to really crave anything. So we look at it positively.” Luiz said he was used to playing big games at Chelsea and, with three weeks to go until the tournament gets underway, he is feeling confident. “I play for a big, big club and when you play for big clubs you play many big games and that helped me prepare for the World Cup,” he said. “This will be the best teams in the world and best players in the world and I am ready for that. I love to live with the pressure, that’s my life, I chose my job. So, let’s do it.” Argentina superstar Lionel Messi said on Tuesday that his army of fans will see a different player at the World Cup than the one that underperformed this season with Barcelona.

“As I join up with the national team, the atmosphere is completly different. Lots of times in the past when I have gone back to Barcelona I have played well. Now I am hoping that the opposite happens,” he told journalists on arrival at Buenos Aires airport. Messi took his time to transcend his talent with Barcelona onto the international stage and it was only at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that he started to perform well. The 26-year-old returned to his native city of Rosario on arrival before linking up with coach Alejandro Sabella and the rest of the squad next Monday at Ezeiza, the team’s training camp. He vowed to train “with maximum energy in order to give his best like always”. “When I return to the training ground with my teammates, with my friends, it’s going to change my mentality and it’s going to be another story. He also revealed that along with the rest of the Barcelona team this season, they were suffering from a “lack of energy”. Argentina will play friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago on June 4 before taking on Slovenia three days later. Their opening Group F match will be against Bosnia on June 16 which proceeds Iran on June 21 and finally Nigeria on June 25.

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