How Croatia punch above their weight on the world stage

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi controls the ball during a training session at the team's base camp in Bronnitsy

How Croatia punch above their weight on the world stage

And on Sunday (June 24), the day he is celebrating his 31st birthday, Messi will be handed the prestigious World Cup trophy as per Sputnik News Agency.

Reports in Argentina claim that senior members of the squad were no longer willing to follow Sampaoli and would instead pick the team to face Nigeria on Tuesday.

"The Argentinian national team is world-renowned, so, naturally, we could not forget about such an important event as the birthday of its captain", said Sports Minister of the Moscow Region Roman Teryushkov.

While Argentina's World Cup participation appears to evaporate, England have already booked a spot in the knockout stage and Maradona has weighed in on Gareth Southgate's charges.

Mayor of Bornitsy Viktor Nevolin and a boy cut a birthday cake including a statue depicting Lionel Messi during a party organized by the town of Bronnitsy, where the Argentina football team have their base camp, near Moscow, on June 24, 2018, to celebrate the birthday of Argentina's forward Lionel Messi (statue on cake) during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup football tournament.

Messi was marked out of the game in the 3-0 defeat by Croatia, touching the ball fewer times than Argentina's goalkeeper.

Argentina made the World Cup final in 2014, eventually losing to Germany 1-0 after Mario Gotze's late victor.

They face Iceland tomorrow but Croatia are already through to the knock-out stages of the World Cup, having captured the attention of the planet by potentially ending Lionel Messi's worldwide career with a 3-0 dismantling of Argentina last week. If Iceland win, it will be time to get the calculators out.

"We think we're going to win all the games, and even if we lose we think we're going to win the next one". Messi scored twice when Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in the group stage four years ago.

Argentina's World Cup campaign hangs in the balance following their miserable start to the tournament.

Mascherano told reporters: "The relationship with the coach is completely normal".

Musa was restricted to just half an hour off the bench in Nigeria's opening defeat to Croatia but seized his chance when included in the starting XI against Iceland on Friday afternoon.

"You can not say that he and Portugal have shown great combinations or tiki-taka football to score great goals. There is nothing I can pay them for the past seasons I've been with them other than to say: "Thank you very much".

Messi's legacy as the greatest player to have ever played the game might depend on how he plays for the rest of this World Cup.

In their hour of need, Argentina need Messi's best once more.

For Iceland, they will sweat on the fitness of two key players.

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