Two top Argentine players set to retire after 2018 World Cup

Lionel Messi Argentina Croatia World Cup 2018

Lionel Messi Argentina Croatia World Cup 2018

He missed a penalty among 11 unsuccessful shots on goal in a 1-1 draw with Iceland before failing to make any meaningful impact in an error-strewn Argentine display against Croatia.

Even a win may not be enough for Argentina, who are bottom of the group - behind Croatia (six points), Nigeria (three) and Iceland (one).

This is Argentina's worst campaign at World Cup since 1958 and also their worst start since 1974 as Lionel Messi failed to help his national team.

Lionel Messi's Argentina face their World Cup day of destiny, needing a win to have any chance of progressing to the last 16 while the Video Assistant Referee system is questioned after a chaotic night of matches.

Messi has always been Argentina's main man, but there are increasing suggestions this could be the player's last major worldwide tournament - suggestions backed by Zabaleta.

"I think it is getting harder for Leo to play for Argentina".

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"But sometimes you have to cling to something".

"Part of that is down to his history with Argentina".

"Leo gets criticised when he does not play well, but when he is not around - like when he briefly retired from worldwide football in 2016 - there are people calling for him to come back".

"And those who say he does not perform for his country like he does for his club are wrong".

"Beyond the fact that I have the team in my head, I do not want to confirm it because I have not yet communicated it to the players", Sampaoli added.

"I am sure he will be on Tuesday - because this could be his last chance".

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Achilles the cat has not been wrong yet in his predictions for all the World Cup games played in Saint Petersburg.

Messi was pictured with his head in his hand prior to kick-off against Croatia and Zabaleta has been concerned by his demeanour in Russian Federation.

"For us it's a momentous game, I think both teams are going to do everything possible to qualify, that makes the match very attractive." he said at his pre-match press conference.

"His body language was completely the opposite before the Croatia game on Thursday".

Zabaleta, a right back who won two Premier League championships when he played at Manchester City, says he feels sorry for Messi.

"That loss (in the qualifiers in June 2017) meant that we had to go through the playoffs and even if it is a new situation, it's a nice way to settle the score", said Dalic. "As a player myself, I know that if you go into a game and you don't really enjoy it then it is very hard to play well".

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