“He’s the only Chelsea star i admire a lot, i have so much respect for him because of his great athleticism and good sportsmanship”- Argentina captain Lionel Messi praises Chelsea maestro and called him his favourite Chelsea player.

Both Chelsea and Tottenham players were involved in a mass tussle during Argentina’s shock 2-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday morning. Marcelo Bielsa’s side inflicted a first loss for Lionel Scaloni’s world champions since the penalty shootout win over France at Qatar 2022 and cut the gap at the top of CONMEBOL qualifying to two points.

The World Cup winners had been on a 14-game winning run since the dramatic loss to Saudi Arabia nearly 12 months ago and had gone without conceding since the final as well, keeping eight cleansheets in a row. Goals from Barcelona defender Ronaldo Araujo and Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez secured a famous and timely win for the away side though.

It leaves the table close with just five points separating Brazil in fifth – yes, fifth – with Argentina top with 12. Uruguay are second on 10 points, Columbia third with nine and Venezuela fourth with eight. Ecuador, who have Chelsea midfielders Moises Caicedo and Kendry Paez, are level on five points with Paraguay and Chile, Bolivia and Peru are stranded at the bottom.

The game threatened to boil over though with Enzo Fernandez involved in a moment of anger with summer Blues transfer target Manuel Ugarte. With the score still at 0-0 the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder flared up towards Atletico Madrid’s Rodrigo De Paul with reports suggesting that the Argentine man called Ugarte a ‘Messi c**k sucker’, sparking the fight.

Messi had been fouled before Ugarte was seen shouting towards the Argentina team through a mass of bodies and Fernandez took exception to this, squaring up to the 22-year-old and shoving him with both hands in the chest. Ugarte then retaliated and had to be held back by his own teammates.

De Paul joined Fernandez and Nottingham Forest right-back Nahuel Molina in confronting Ugarte with Uruguay’s Mathias Olivera also involved. Messi himself looked to act as peacemaker during the confrontation but couldn’t calm things down as more and more players joined the fight with the Ballon d’Or winner only escalating thing, holding Olivera by the throat at one point.

After the game Messi said: “I prefer not to say what I think about some gestures. But these young people have to learn to respect from their elders. This game was always intense and hard but always with a lot of respect. They have to learn a little bit.”

Fernandez himself has rarely been shy of getting into battles on the field and has become a leader at Chelsea already despite only joining the club in January. He was at the centre of controversy when Tottenham hosted Mauricio Pochettino’s side two weeks ago, being on the receiving end of a strong tackle from Argentine teammate Cristian Romero.

The Spurs defender was sent off for his challenge after scraping his studs down the shin and onto the ankle of Fernandez inside the box. He is usually one not to back down from moments like this but was nowhere to be seen. Romero started and finished the game at the heart of defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi but wasn’t part of the scrap.

The 25-year-old was later involved in a pushing and shoving match with Maximiliano Araujo. Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur was also in the squad for Argentina but only came on as a substitute after an injury to Araujo in the second half.

Luckily for both Tottenham and Chelsea their stars came out of this unscathed even if they weren’t best of friends on the field.

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