Runner-up in the 2014 World Cup, Argentina barely made it to this World Cup. And while a team lead by Messi cannot be ignored, other key talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Iguain have been far from being in top form for Argentina. That is why little-known Boca Juniors striker Daria Benedetto has been deployed up front.
Doubted by fans, yet the five-time world player of the year delivered. Argentina would not be going to Russia without his goals and leadership. Turns 31 during a tournament that could yet crown his career.
Coach Sampaoli, 57, is his country's third coach in less than a year. His team has not impressed so far, with only one win in four official matches. His team is the biggest question mark in the World Cup.