The cake and the portrait: Messi celebrated his birthday with teammates

The cake and the portrait: Messi celebrated his birthday with teammates

Simone went on to express his frustration at the lack of leadership shown by everyone involved in Argentina's side, adding: "What we saw against Croatia is the picture of what has happened over the past four years, unfortunately". The team looks lost.

Ronaldo is at the moment top joint scorer on four goals in two matches with Belgium's Romelu Lukaku, who have also scored brace in each of the two matches for his national team.

Despite the uncertainty, Simeone said he had not given up hope that Argentina may yet survive into the knockout stage. Messi led his country to three global major titles - twice in Copa America (2015 and 2016) and in 2014 FIFA World Cup - but ended as runners-up in all the three finals. "He is being criticised and I don't understand it at all", he told Marca.

Sampaoli would not confirm whether he planned to sub goalkeeper Willy Caballero for Franco Armani, who has not played a single minute for Argentina but was in attendance at the news conference.

If there is one trophy that makes Lionel Messi "one of the" and not "the" Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T) in football is the FIFA World Cup or any other worldwide major for his country.

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"When the coaches screw up, it's worse than when the players s*** it".

"It is clear that in the dressing room players are beating each other up but in these situations, you need someone to fight".

Messi has come under fire in Russian Federation, where Argentina are in danger of making a group-stage exit after drawing with Iceland and losing 3-0 to Croatia.

At the time, the Barcelona skipper admitted that he did not think through his retirement announcement.

They must beat the Super Eagles to stand any chance of going through to the last-16, and have to better Iceland's result against Croatia.