Nigeria game a definitive moment in Messi’s career

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Held by Iceland and humiliated by Croatia, Argentina's World Cup could already have been all but over, but Lionel Messi and the rest of Jorge Sampaoli's troubled squad have one final shot at redemption against Nigeria on Tuesday.

Former FIFA World Cup and Ballon d'Or victor Kaka has made an interesting observation explaining why five-time Ballon d'Or victor Lionel Messi is struggling to make an impact with Argentina in Russian Federation. When his teammates witness his reaction after a setback, they infer he's lost faith the team, in them.

However, bouncing back will take a huge improvement in performance and strength of character so far unseen from the two-time world champions in Russian Federation. But no doubt the talking point will be Messi before, during and after tonight's final round of games in Group D.

"But we have worked on that and, for the good of Argentina, I am sure Lionel Messi will have the ball much more against Nigeria than in the previous match", he added. The draw against Argentina was an upset, but Iceland then dropped the next game 2-0 to Nigeria.

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Diego Maradona blamed the Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia for the current situation of the team.

Having repeatedly referred to the "virtual world", he was asked instead to talk about the "real world" in a clear case of defiance, even goading, by critics who can not accept such a powerhouse nation being on the brink of World Cup elimination.

"I was not surprised he struggled, in what was a disastrous defeat for us".

He didn't score in the 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup final four years ago, and was on the losing team in the Copa America finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016.

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"I don't care what other teams are saying".

"He wants to show the world a different image to the one we've shown in the first two games".

In its hour of crisis, Argentina needs Messi's best once more. Argentina, who are at the bottom of Group D, need a win to progress to the knockout stages.

"Personally, the virtual world doesn't affect me at all", he said.

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"I can't remember a worse performance from us at a World Cup", former Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta, who started the 2014 final, said in his role as a pundit for the BBC.

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