Lionel Messi’s dream of ever lifting the World Cup is hanging by a thread after Croatia defeated Argentina by 3-0.
With this result, Croatia has comfortably booked a place in the last 16 with the win in Novgorod on Thursday (NZT Friday), after beating their group D rivals in a patchy, physical encounter.
The loss has left Argentina struggling for competition points after managing only a 1-1 draw in their opening match against debutant Iceland. They got just one point and would now be relying on other results going their way, as well as likely needing to beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria emphatically.
Iceland and Nigeria are going to clash on June 22 with the result of that second-round game likely to be crucial to the outcome of group D.
Should the Eagles lose Friday’s match then a draw between Croatia and Iceland in the final game will see one of the great names of international football dumped out, not considering their result.
It, of course, means that the great Lionel Messi, a ghost-like figure after being let down by his team-mates, is going to end his football career without a World Cup trophy to his CV.