By 90Min
June 16, 2018

As one of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi has the potential to change entire games at the touch of the ball, a drop of the shoulder or with a neat dribble through the defence. 

This is potentially Messi's last opportunity to win the World Cup and truly make his mark as one of the best players in history, both for club and country- but can he rely on the rest of his team to ensure he achieves that dream?

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In previous tournaments, Argentina has had a relatively strong team to rely on, however many of those players have become less useful through as they have aged. 

For example, when Argentina played in the World Cup final in 2014, Mascherano was playing for Barcelona in both La Liga and the Champions League. This year, the 34-year-old finds himself playing the Chinese Super League, and yet still he finds himself in the 23-man squad heading to Russia.

A title winning team must have a quality defence - since 1998, the winner of the golden glove has always participated in the final. With Chelsea's Willy Caballero expected to start for Argentina against Iceland, questions have to be asked as to whether he is capable of winning such a prestigious award.

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Having played only 3 league games for Chelsea last season, he lacks the match experience to maintain good performances of the highest level throughout the tournament.

Argentina's only quality defender is Nicolas Otamendi, who performed consistently throughout Manchester City's record-breaking season. But it was less than 3 months ago that Spain thrashed the Argentines 6-1 in a friendly, a display which suggested the South American side had much to work on in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Ultimately, Argentina will have to rely on both their midfield and attacking strengths. Obviously, they have bags of talent in the final third, with the ability to look towards Aguero, Higuain, Di Maria and Dybala for their goals and assists.


But in midfield, they certainly lack world-class talent. With AC Milan's Lucas Biglia hampered by injury, Argentina are likely to rely on Ever Banega and Giovani Lo Celso, both of whom have never played in a World Cup before. Such a lack in experience will damage Argentina's chances in this World Cup - international tournaments are so often different in style and intensity to club football.

Argentina will have to rely on a young Lo Celso, who has played 33 league games for Paris St Germain this season, to experience a breakthrough in the World Cup and help become the creative outlet Argentina desperately need in the centre of midfield.

The South American team has quality players with the potential to play well in this tournament. But they are exceptionally top heavy - they can claim to possess at least 3 or 4 world class forwards, and yet only one quality defender and an inexperienced midfield. 


They may score goals, but they are just as likely to concede them and cracks may begin to show against the bigger teams in the latter stages, just like in their 6-1 loss to Spain. Russia may not be the stage for Lionel Messi to win the World Cup he deserves.

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