Around 400 journalists gathered at the La Alibceleste training ground at Qatar University to watch the 35-year-old continue his preparations for his final World Cup, but he failed to show up.
Reports in Argentina say that Messi did indeed train in the second part of the session, behind closed doors, after undertaking gym work as his workload is managed ahead of kick-off.
Lisandro Martinez, Rodrigo De Paul, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes, Nicolas Otamendi and Juan Foyth have joined Messi at the gym for the start of training.
Argentina have already sent Joaquin Correa and Nico Gonzalez home after the World Cup through injury but are still spoiled for choice among attacking riches.
Julian Alvarez and Lautaro Martinez battle it out to lead an attack that has often varied in formation under Lionel Scaloni.
Aston Villa’s Emi Martinez is set to start in goal with Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister and Tottenham defender Cristian Romero in the mix for a starting spot.
Predicted Argentina XI: E. Martinez; Molina, Romero, Lisandro Martinez, Acuna; DePaul, Rodriguez; Di Maria, Messi, Alvarez; Lautaro Martinez.