Keanu Baccus has learnt a lot from his last encounter with Argentina (Picture: Socceroos)

In his first World Cup start, Socceroos midfielder Keanu Baccus was given the tough task of marking seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. Now six months on, the 25-year-old has learnt a lot from that early encounter.

As Australia prepares to face Argentina on Thursday night, Keanu Baccus reflected on the previous match-up when the teams met quarter-final last year.

Fronting the media ahead of Thursday night’s game, Baccus says that he has worked on remaining composed in those crucial stages.

“I think in those high-pressure moments [you need] to stay calm, go out there and be yourself and do your best for the team,” he said.

“[Since then] I went overseas to play in bigger games against Celtic, against Rangers [and] so I was a bit more used to it than I was beforehand.”  

If Baccus gets the start for the Aussies, he is likely to line up on Messi once again. Despite the challenge that is posed for the St Mirren midfielder, he is not going to let anyone get in his way.

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“I don’t want anyone to get the better of me. Whether it’s him [or] whether it’s any other player on the pitch. So, I’m definitely gonna go out there and do my best again and try [to] stop all of them,” he said.

Even though the match is a friendly, Australia will be seeking revenge according to Baccus, who says that it is a bit of a ‘grudge match’. 

“We’re not going to treat it like a friendly as such,” he said. 

“We’re gonna go out there and try to do our best and win the game. That’s what we’ve come into camp [for]. From [the first day of] training every day, to win the game.”

Thursday’s match will be contested in China as the Socceroos prepare for the Asian Cup in January. Although the match is being played in neutral territory, the midfielder says that the locals have embraced the Aussies.  

“As soon as I got off the plane, the airport was packed. Then you get the bus here to the hotel and the hotel was packed, and you walk in the hotel, and you’ve got sort of cameras and phones on you which is cool to see because it’s a new experience for me,” he said.

The match is set to be the final friendly the Socceroos play before the Asian Cup. 

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