Argentina forward Lionel Messi gives Harbhajan Singh sleepless nights

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The only major trophy in football that neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi have ever won is the World Cup.

The political fallout was huge with the row carrying over to the very top levels of government.

Whether or not the history books will be kind to Messi may just hinge on the performance of his team at the World Cup in Russian Federation. It brings results as evidenced by his 2015 Copa America triumph for Chile.

Messi and Argentina, who finished runners-up to Germany in Brazil in 2014, launch their Group D campaign against World Cup newcomers Iceland in Moscow on Saturday. Senegalese Coach Aliou Cisse was part of the Senegal team that made it to the quarterfinals of the World cup back in 2002, can he lead Senegal to make history as the first Africa nation to have made it to the semis?

They played Wales in the semi-final, before overcoming a France side cramped by their own fears in the final. You can understand his frustration after losing three finals.

Even with an in-form Ronaldo, Portugal, the European champions, are not considered one of the favourites to win the tournament. "The team will end up being his team, not mine", Sampaoli said of Messi. Without him they would sink. "There are worn out players!" Messi fans delight in mocking Ronaldo's perceived selfishness and prolific penalty-scoring, suggesting that these are the reasons for his mammoth goal-scoring record.

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The problem is getting them all fit and functioning in the same team.

Aside from the obvious Lionel Messi, there's Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, the new wonder Paulo Dybala and (of course) the creative force, Angel Di Maria. With LANZINI out of the squad, Maxi MEZA will get a start.

He was directly involved in nearly half of Argentina's goals in qualifying, despite playing in only 10 of their 18 games, and in the 11 months up to October previous year, no Argentina player, bar Messi, scored a competitive goal.

The enduring memory of that night is Messi taking leave of his seat in the stadium by the time Spain had scored their sixth.

After weeks of build-up and anticipation, the first game-day of the 2018 tournament in Russian Federation is here and there isn't a single football fan who isn't excited. But Iceland and Croatia should be underestimated at Argentina's peril.

Brazil's captain, Neymar is tied on third spot with Polish striker Robert Lewandoski at the worldwide level with 55 goals for Brazil while Luiz Suarez completes the top five with 51 goals. It is possible that they could hang on until '22, though Messi has indicated this could be his worldwide swan song.

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