Argentina's Messi problem: Myth and Reality 06/25/2018

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Should Iceland fail to bag three points at the Rostov Arena they will be eliminated regardless of the outcome of Nigeria's match with Argentina.

After being held to a draw by Iceland and humiliated by Croatia, Argentina's World Cup could already have been all but over.

Which team will you be supporting tonight?

The two-time World Cup victor sent out words of encouragement for the man in search of his first silverware with the national side ahead of their do-or-die encounter with the Super Eagles.

They are all nearly certainly set to watch this final group game from the sidelines.

"For the good of Argentina, I am sure Lionel Messi will be touching the ball a lot more than in our previous match".

However, they were downed by a David Beckham penalty against England and could only manage a 1-1 draw with Sweden in their crucial final group game, leaving them to finish third once again, but there was to be no reprieve on this occasion.

For all his heroics with Barcelona at club level, Messi is still often compared unfavourably in his homeland for his inability to recreate Maradona's success for the national team.

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Zabaleta thinks Messi is unfairly given a hard time by the Argentine public and backed him to come to the fore in St Petersburg on Tuesday.

In Group D, 2014 runners-up Argentina are on the brink of elimination and must win against Nigeria. "But, we have to take care because we have some players on yellow cards, so I will change the line-up".

"The happiest I saw Lionel Messi when I played alongside him for Argentina was in 2012 - he scored a hat-trick against Brazil in NY, and he played the whole game with freedom and a smile on his face", he wrote in his BBC Sport column.

Last chance at World Cup glory?

"I've always had the dream of watching me raise the World Cup".

Zabaleta, a right back who won two Premier League championships when he played at Manchester City, says he feels sorry for Messi.

In its hour of crisis, Argentina needs Messi's best once more.

"That loss (in the qualifiers in June 2017) meant that we had to go through the playoffs and even if it is a new situation, it's a nice way to settle the score", said Dalic.

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