Lionel Messi will be acutely aware that this could be his final chance to win the World Cup.
The Argentina forward, who has scored 64 goals in 124 games for his country, has already retired from international football once before - and it could happen again once this summer’s showpiece tournament is over.
He was convinced to perform a U-turn on his initial decision ahead of Argentina’s 2018 World Cup qualification campaign and the South American nation wouldn’t have made it to Russia without him.
“I don't know. It will depend how we do, how it ends,” Messi told Catalan newspaper Sport before the tournament when asked if he will retire after this World Cup. “The fact we've lost three finals now has led to some complicated moments with the Argentine press due to the differences in seeing what it means to reach a final.
“It is not easy and [reaching three finals] has to be appreciated. It's true that winning them is important, but getting there is not easy.”
Indeed, there’s a real chance that Argentina will fail to escape their group at this World Cup after being held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland in their opener. Messi had 11 shots at goal against the tiny European nation, including a missed penalty in the second half.
The 30-year-old will now be desperate to make amends in Argentina’s second group match against Croatia on Wednesday night.
Ramos drops honest opinon about Messi with Argentina
Many football fans believe that Messi must win the World Cup to cement his status as the greatest footballer of all time, above the likes of Pele and his compatriot Diego Maradona.
However, Sergio Ramos - who has faced Messi on countless occasions with both Real Madrid and Spain - does not agree with the argument that Maradona is still Argentina’s best ever player until Messi manages to win the World Cup.
Speaking to reporters after Spain’s 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday night, Ramos stated his firm believe that Messi is ‘light years’ ahead of Maradona - and he reckons everyone back in Argentina knows it, too.
"In Argentina they know that Maradona is light years away from the best Argentine player in history, which for me is Lionel Messi," the centre-back was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca.
Why Ramos might be angry with Maradona
Because Messi is Barcelona’s most iconic player of the current era, these quotes will come as a shock to many.
While we should take Ramos’s quotes at face value, it’s important to note what Maradona said about the Spanish central defender earlier in the week.
The Argentina legend suggested that Ramos isn’t a true leader like Uruguay and Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin.
Now Ramos has bit back by hitting Maradona where it hurts.
Is Sergio Ramos right about Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona? Have your say by leaving a comment below.News Now - Sport News