The world will be watching Lionel Messi on Tuesday as he and his Argentina team-mates attempt to rescue their Russia 2018 campaign against Nigeria.
After two rounds of action in Group D, the 2014 runners-up are staring elimination in the face, having been held to a surprise 1-1 draw by debutants Iceland before capitulating to a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Croatia.
So much of the pre-tournament talk was whether - in what could be his final World Cup - Messi would finally experience international glory, as great rival Cristiano Ronaldo did with Portugal at Euro 2016.
But a torrid start means Messi's men have it all to do to simply make it to the first knockout stage - La Albiceleste need to defeat Nigeria in St Petersburg and hope Iceland do not manage likewise against already qualified Croatia.
The fall-out from Thursday's damaging loss has been colossal, with legendary 1986 World Cup winner Diego Maradona wading into the mess to criticise head coach Jorge Sampaoli and his methods.
On top of that, reports have surfaced that the Argentina camp staged a mutiny against Sampaoli - talk that was dismissed by the nation's FA president Claudio Tapia as little more than media hype.
"Really [journalists] are the fourth power, do not forget that they are communicators and that with this function that you have to be able to communicate...they transcend, install and distort, they used to talk about teams, how they play, today everything is distorted, but we're going to leave that for after the World Cup," he said.
"They have seen the coaching staff direct the practice, the squad training, they have seen that a lot of what has been said is a lie, we ask for a gesture of support."
As for Nigeria, a draw would be enough as long as Iceland fail to beat Croatia but William Troost-Ekong knows that writing off Messi - who turned 31 on Sunday - could prove a fatal error.
"If Messi wakes up it will be a problem. But we will work for it not to happen," he said.
"It's not the first time we face a team with many good players. We will do our thing and we have chances."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nigeria - Ahmed Musa
He has talked a good game, enjoying comparisons made between himself and Messi and suggesting he could be on track to repeat his brace against Iceland. Now it is time for Musa to back that up.
Argentina - Lionel Messi
Who else? He was culpable in the opener against Iceland in missing a penalty and watched on bemused as his goalkeeper and defenders made a royal mess of things against Croatia. Could this be his final outing on the grandest stage?
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Four of the eight games between Nigeria and Argentina have come at World Cup finals – Argentina winning all four contests.
- Argentina are currently enduring their longest winless run in World Cup finals history, (W0 D2 L2).
- Nigeria are looking to win successive World Cup games for the first time since 1998 – three points will also guarantee a place in the knockout stages for the fourth time.
- Argentina's Lionel Messi has had 12 shots in this World Cup so far but has yet to score – that's eight more attempts than any other Argentina player.
- Nigeria attacker Ahmed Musa is now his country's all-time top scorer in World Cup games with four goals.
|Rabiot would be a great signing for Barcelona – Xavi|
|JaVale McGee: Lakers are going to be ´one of the most fun teams ever´|
|Dolphins owner Ross: National anthem policy a ´placeholder´|
|Boga leaves Chelsea for Sassuolo|
|Schurrle in talks to leave Borussia Dortmund|
|Guardiola happy with Mahrez and Man City despite loss|
|Dodgers top Brewers in Machado´s debut|
|Raptors GM apologises to DeRozan after Spurs trade|
|Manchester City 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Gotze spoils Mahrez´s debut in ICC opener|
|United fans keeping De Gea at Old Trafford – Herrera|
|Keita: I turned down Barca and Bayern for Liverpool|
|Merritt stays ahead as rain halts Barbasol Championship|
|Roma had to sell Alisson to Liverpool, says Totti|
|Donald Trump: Kneeling players should be suspended without pay|
|Cardinals´ Carpenter makes history|
|Nationals pair Strasburg, Zimmerman activated from DL|
|Premier League-linked Plattenhardt feels at home at Hertha|
|Johnson expecting tough Granollers challenge|
|Good Luck at last! Colts quarterback fit for training camp|
|Haase humbles Rublev as Cecchinato charges on|
|Benzema hits back at ´crazy´ De Laurentiis over age jibe|
|Leeds Rhinos finally end winless streak in Super League|
|No freaky Friday for Spieth as he bounces back in round two|
|Double boost for Bouchard in Gstaad|
|Iconic Ronaldo to raise Serie A level - Roma´s Hamm|
|Brighton birthday boy March renews contract|
|Lamela hoping injuries are behind him after signing Tottenham extension|
|Where will I get my massage? - Roma´s Pallotta mocks UEFA ban|
|Rashid struck by Lightning amid speculation over Test recall|
|Major misses a mixed blessing for Fowler and Kuchar|
|Fleetwood, McIlroy and Spieth bare teeth as Kisner and Johnson lead|
|The Open 2018 diary: Fleetwood´s swinging in the rain, but it´s a slog for McIlroy|
|Fees agreed as Fabri closes in on Fulham move|
|Neymar and Mbappe have a very good relationship, claims PSG president|
|Boufal joins Celta Vigo on loan from Southampton|
|Leicester sign Ward from Liverpool amid Schmeichel speculation|
|Kisner philosophical after run-in with the Barry Burn|
|Gattuso unsure of Bonucci future|
|Verdasco, Gasquet advance but Ruud´s run is over in Bastad|
|James to remain at Bayern Munich, says Rummenigge|
|Texans QB Watson expects to be fit for training camp|
|Torpedo Moscow deny cancelling player´s contract over racist abuse|
|Napoli decry Cavani, Di Maria rumours as fake news|
|Kisner feels the Burn, Spieth on the surge|
|Woods: I could have cleaned up my round|
|Lille swoop for free agent Fonte|
|Sagan completes hat-trick after bunch sprint|
|´Amateur´ DFB needs Lahm´s help - Rummenigge|
|Horner expects Ricciardo new deal ´pretty quickly´|
|Diakhaby swaps Monaco for Huddersfield|
|Tottenham´s Lamela signs to 2022|
|Atletico´s Rodrigo excited to wear Simeone´s 14|
|F1 Raceweek: Red Bulls steal show from Mercedes but Ricciardo to start from back|
|Fakhar hits historic double hundred as Pakistan thrash Zimbabwe|
|Roma president Pallotta hit with three-month UEFA suspension|
|Hamburg extend contract of coveted youngster Jann-Fiete Arp|
|Steady start for Kisner as Woods endures mixed day at Carnoustie|
|Zach Johnson: Dustin comparisons are unfair|
|Neymar backs Tite for Brazil despite World Cup failure|
|Vinicius wants to play with ´idol´ Neymar but Perez calms transfer talk|
|One hundred not out for Els at The Open|
|Magnificent Maharaj takes eight wickets to stymie Sri Lanka|
|If I lose I´ll go down swinging - McIlroy ready for Carnoustie battle|
|UEFA confirms AC Milan reinstated to 2018-19 Europa League|
|Fleetwood: Open Championship is the one for me|
|Canberra coach Stuart brands bunker ´waste of time´ after controversial Cronulla loss|
|Son signs five-year Tottenham extension|
|Fleetwood cards fine 65 to share Open lead|
|WATCH: Evra belts out Bocelli in Ronaldo welcome video|
|I´ll always carry Roma in my heart, says Liverpool signing Alisson|