How can Argentina get the best out of Lionel Messi?

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The beaten 2014 finalists go into Thursday's crucial Group D clash desperate for three points after a disappointing 1-1 draw with minnows Iceland in their first outing in Russian Federation. "We have to look forward and win the next match against Croatia".

Argentina's Lionel Messi misses a penalty.

Messi has played his entire club career with Barcelona and has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or five times.

Argentina need to beat Croatia to clear its path from the three-game group stage to the knockout round of 16.

"He is the first who wants to bring the Cup with him".

Back-to-back defeats in Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016 compounded a desperate defeat in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany in Rio, with Messi majestic performances in those tournaments not enough to carry his side to victory.

He has scored 64 goals in 124 worldwide appearances for Argentina. We're talking about a World Cup that involves millions of people. "With Leo, Argentina have only lost three or four games". With a player of Messi's talent, it is a waste to confine him to one part of the pitch. "I think that's quite unfair".

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He insisted it gave him flexibility to adapt against different opponents, but acknowledged Argentina needed to be more "elastic" in their play. But Hernan Crespo, the now-retired Argentina striker and the country's third-highest scorer, told BBC Sport that Messi doesn't need to win a World Cup to be one of greatest players of all time.

Argentina collected just seven points from eight games when Messi was missing for qualifying games, with that total transformed to 21 points in the ten games when he did start.

While much has been made of Argentina's over-dependence on their out-and-out star, who turns 31 this weekend and may well be at his last World Cup, Sampaoli said fortunately the obsession with Messi also destabilised others. When Messi is out on the right, Argentina's attacking play lacks an edge.

"It is clear that Messi's legacy and standing within the game would be enhanced with victory in Russian Federation this summer, but he does not need to win the World Cup to be viewed as Maradona's equal", argued London-based sports writer Greg Lea in an article for The Sportsman. We are aware what we are playing for.

Here, we take a look at some of his options ahead of Argentina's huge game against Croatia on Thursday night.

He dare not fail again.

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