Lionel Messi defends his performances for Argentina

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Lionel Messi has acknowledged that Barcelona's free-flowing style under coach Pep Guardiola gives him more chance to shine than with Argentina.

Messi's form with Barcelona has been sensational again this season, winning another La Liga title and playing at a consistently high level which has seen him hailed as one of the greatest players in history.

There is still a feeling in Argentina, however, that he does not reproduce that form at international level.

The Rosario-born forward played in all 18 of Argentina's World Cup qualifiers but netted just four times as the Albiceleste struggled to reach South Africa by snatching South America's fourth and final automatic place in the last round.

"They are different systems and different styles and everything, no?" Messi told CNN International.

"At Barcelona, Guardiola decided to use me more in midfield and that's when I had more touches on the ball and played more around the front of the area. And well, I've had the luck to be able to score more goals.

"People have an opinion and I respect it. I'm the first person who wants to do well with my national team and perform like I do with Barcelona.

"I know that this is a really good opportunity for me and I'm going to try to do it.

"I pray. Hopefully, it will be my World Cup, Argentina's World Cup and that we hit the ground running and play up to peoples' expectations and win the World Cup."

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