Published: Tue, June 26, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Can Lionel Messi save Argentina at the 2018 World Cup?

Can Lionel Messi save Argentina at the 2018 World Cup?

Argentina must defeat Nigeria, who they lost to 4-2 in Russian Federation last November, and hope Croatia can do them a favour against Iceland to keep their hopes of advancing from Group D alive.

Iceland's titanic task could be eased if Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic sticks to his promise of rotating his team to keep his squad fresh, his side having sealed their place in the next round by beating Nigeria 2-0 and Argentina 3-0.

Iceland have made three changes, with Jon Bordvarsson being left on the bench to leave Alfred Finnbogason as a lone striker in front of a five-man midfield.

Struggling to make their mark, Iceland will aim for nothing less than a win when they take on already-qualified Croatia in their last Group D clash at the Rostov Arena in Russian Federation on Tuesday. "With our hearts", said Argentina's coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Messi's future became practically an affair of state when Argentina's President Mauricio Macri called on him to stay.

Before Sergio Aguero's goal against Iceland no other Argentina player had scored for the national team in 600 minutes, 12 internationals ago, and no one's scored since either. Having repeatedly referred to the "virtual world", he was asked instead to talk about the "real world" in a clear case of defiance, even goading, by critics who can not accept such a powerhouse nation being on the brink of World Cup elimination. "But sometimes I win, sometimes I lose".

All eyes were on the 31-year-old when Argentina drew their first game of the tournament with Iceland after he missed a penalty that could have won his team the game. Image: PA Maradona also refers to Messi's 2014 World Cup outing where he was named player of the tournament. However, the name of Lionel Messi remains absent.

"The situation that has arisen could have happened to any of us".

"I was not surprised he struggled, in what was a disastrous defeat for us.

But, we have to take care because we have some players on yellow cards, so I will change the line-up". If Iceland win, it will be time to get the calculators out.

Euro 2016 heroes Iceland can still dream of progress to the knockout rounds but they must beat Croatia and hope the other result goes their way. If it's the Eurovision song contest we always think we're going to win it even though we never make it to the finals.

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