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Lionel Messi of Argentina

FIFA World Cup preview: Argentina

Argentina may stand as one of the heavyweights of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, but their group dictates that they won't have it handed to them on a silver platter.

Any team with Lionel Messi in it demands respect. But the question has to be asked: would Argentina even be here if not for Messi?

It has been a rough road in recent years. Losses in the 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America finals. It is almost last drinks for defender Javier Mascherano.

Striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Lucas Biglia have had injury concerns, Paulo Dybala hasn't lived up to the hype.

We judge the big dogs more harshly, but Argentina come into this World Cup looking susceptible except for one thing - Messi.

Escaping this group should be a certainty. But beating Iceland is a formality that doesn't always happen (ask England). Croatia has built a strong roster.

There could be some wobbles along the way for the competition favourites.

The draw for Argentina

Iceland, June 16

Croatia, June 22

Nigeria, June 27

The star player

Messi and then daylight. At 30 years old the Argentina superstar is at the peak of his powers and will terrorise opposition defensive lines in Russia.

Winning a World Cup would probably cement his position as the best player the game has ever scene. It is enormous pressure, but that rarely seems to phase him.

Argentina barely made it to the World Cup, needing a win in Ecuador on the last day of qualifying. Messi stood up in the moments that mattered.

He could well win this World Cup off his own boot.

What needs to go right

Messi needs support. How far Argentina goes in this tournament depends on how the whole roster performs.

Sure, Messi could thunder home 15 goals to single-handedly win the tournament. But he really needs the support of his teammates to really trouble the big dogs in this World Cup.

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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