Argentina

Preview: Nigeria vs Argentina

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.

Messi could retire, says Zabaleta

Messi cut an isolated figure as Argentina fell to a humbling 3-0 defeat to Croatia in their Group D clash on Thursday, making a premature exit a distinct possibility for the two-time champions.

Zabaleta, who was part of the team that reached the 2014 final, believes the Barcelona star could call time on his international career should they fail to progress to the last 16.

"I just feel so sorry for Lionel Messi," he told the BBC.

Argentina 0 Croatia 3

Jorge Sampaoli's side produced an abysmal second-half display that severely damages their hopes of following Croatia out of Group D, with Caballero's stray pass to Gabriel Mercado that was volleyed home by Rebic in the 53rd minute proving the turning point.

Any hopes of a late Argentina fightback were extinguished 10 minutes from time as the irrepressible Luka Modric whipped a fine strike into the bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area.

Argentina 1 Iceland 1

With Diego Maradona watching on from the stands, Messi failed to convert from the spot in the second half of an eventful Group D opener at the Otkrytie Arena in Moscow.

Sergio Aguero had fired the beaten finalists from four years ago ahead in the 19th minute, finally breaking his World Cup duck at the ninth attempt with a rising left-footed drive.

Yet debutants Iceland refused to melt on the main stage, Alfred Finnbogason capitalising on Willy Caballero's weak punch to score his country's maiden goal in the history of the tournament just four minutes later.

Argentina rule Romero out of World Cup

Romero was expected to be Argentina's number one goalkeeper for the World Cup, but will be unable to take the gloves in Russia following his latest injury setback.

The goalkeeper was expected to start in goal for Manchester United in the FA Cup, but manager Jose Mourinho selected David de Gea due to Romero's lack of fitness.

And the 31-year-old, who started the World Cup final as Germany edged a 1-0 win over Argentina in 2014, will now miss the chance to represent his country in Russia.

Spain 6 Argentina 1

Spain were pegged back by Germany for a 1-1 draw on Friday but Argentina – without Lionel Messi due to injury – fared far worse than the reigning world champions. 

Diego Costa put Spain in front, Marco Asensio then adding his second assist of the game by setting up Isco, although Nicolas Otamendi headed one back for Argentina before the break.

That proved a mere consolation for the visitors at the Wanda Metropolitano, though, with Isco on target again shortly after the restart to put Spain in total control.

Messi can lead Argentina to World Cup success – Riquelme

After battling through qualifying, Jorge Sampaoli's men are not considered among the strong favourites for Russia 2018.

However, Riquelme – who was capped 51 times by the national team – believes Argentina could contend if Messi performs, having been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

"We hope that we do well, that the players get well and above all Messi," the Argentinian told El Trece.

"If the latter happens, Argentina will have many chances to win. If Messi is good, nothing is complicated.

World Cup 2030: Argentina, Uruguay & Paraguay announce plan for joint bid

The three countries' presidents announced the plan in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, although the bidding process will not begin for several more years.

The 2030 World Cup will mark the centenary of the tournament, which first was held in Uruguay in 1930.

In June, Uefa said it would "strongly support" either a pan-British or an English bid to host in 2030.

"The first meeting [for the bid preparation] will be organised in the first week of November," Paraguay's president Horacio Cartes said.

Barrett replaces Lima Sopoaga

The hard-working All Blacks first five-eighth, who has started all eight tests in 2017, was originally slated as one of six players to sit out the trip to Buenos Aires for the Rugby Championship clash against Argentina.

But that plan has proven ill-fated, with the 26-year-old called in at late notice to replace Southland's Lima Sopoaga in the travelling squad of 28 to face the Pumas, as the All Blacks look to seal another title with their fifth victory from as many matches in the competition.

Six All Blacks to miss Argentina game

Locks Samuel Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, loose forwards Liam Squire and Sam Cane and backs Beauden Barrett and Ryan Crotty will stay home next week before joining up with the squad in Cape Town.

The 28-man squad to travel to Buenos Aires includes the return of loose forwards Jerome Kaino and Matt Todd and lock Patrick Tuipulotu.

Coach Steve Hansen says they want to manage the squad across a demanding playing and international travel schedule at the back end of the 2017 season.

The squad to travel to Argentina is: