Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Who will win the Golden Boot? Lionel Messi? Neymar?

Who will win the Golden Boot? Lionel Messi? Neymar?

But Caballero isn't taking anything for granted, saying: "As it is the first game of the World Cup, it is hard to start playing at the best level".

"I'm looking forward to just watching the World Cup and seeing the great teams".

Messi, who is widely considered one of if not the greatest player of all time, won't have many more chances to win global football's biggest prize as he is 30. "It was one of my best experiences of my life", said Liverpool's German boss.

Since making his debut in 2005, Lionel Messi has mesmerised, awestruck and brought joy to not only Barcelona and Argentina fans, but even rival fans - such has been the impact that he has had on the game.

Players, coaches and team strategists also have the luxury these days of studying an opponent's style of play to plot strategies on how to nullify strengths and exploit weaknesses through technology and training methods and nutrition have also improved beyond the wildest imaginations of players and sports administrators of old.

Aside from the obvious Lionel Messi, there's Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, the new wonder Paulo Dybala and (of course) the creative force, Angel Di Maria.

If a bunch of Hollywood writers were to produce their desired script for this year's FIFA World Cup in Moscow on July 15, this would be the plot-a duel between football's biggest stars: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. "It's the answer to 'Which roster do you want?' It's the answer to 'Who is the best player any of us has ever seen?' It's the answer to 'What is the meaning of life?' The answer is always Messi".

Portugal captain Ronaldo, 33, and Argentina skipper Messi, 30, have multiple honours for their clubs but neither have lifted the World Cup.

It is unusual but Sampaoli has actually had much more success devising a way of stifling Messi's talent than liberating it.

Meaningless platitude to spout every now and again: Messi is carrying this Argentina side. Now, Messi is the man and he's hungry for it; so, he's going to do it.

At times, though, the criticism has bordered on the gratuitous, not least over his reluctance to sing the national anthem.

If Argentina can get Paulo Dybala and Lionel Messi on the same page, they're a unsafe team to beat.

They have also been placed in arguably the toughest group, with games against Croatia and Nigeria, who beat them 4-2 in a friendly last November, following Iceland. You've gotta win a World Cup.

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