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.
|Hogg fit for much-changed Scotland|
|Former Arsenal striker Bendtner faces 50 days in prison over taxi driver assault|
|Athletic extend Muniain contract to 2024|
|Kohli ready to move on after narrow defeat|
|PSG to wait for Neymar, Mbappe injury updates|
|Icardi hopeful of Messi return for Copa America|
|Cavs star Love expects to be out until 2019|
|Ricciardo terrified by Renault switch|
|Under-fire Taylor calls for PFA structure review|
|McLaren reveal one-off livery for Alonso´s last race|
|Samir Nasri training with West Ham amid reports of free transfer|
|Guardiola warned over derby clash comments|
|Stoinis sees Australia to T20 win against India|
|Modric not deserving of Ballon d´Or – Cavani|
|F1 Raceweek: Alonso ends on 312 races, Raikkonen a Ferrari great - Abu Dhabi GP in numbers|
|Neymar made a mistake leaving Barcelona for PSG, insists Edmilson|
|O´Neill and Keane leave Republic of Ireland after relegation|
|WATCH: Maxwell hits Spidercam with sliced shot in Australia-India T20|
|Rafinha wants Barca exit due to ´crazy´ Valverde selections – Mazinho|
|France to wear rainbow laces in support of Thomas following attack|
|You need to stop this – Cavani slams media over supposed Neymar feud|
|Anderson rested for final Test|
|Tite applauds Seedorf for Cameroon´s style of play|
|Griezmann not obsessed with Ballon d´Or|
|Neymar feels injury is ´nothing serious´|
|Durant says Green altercation won´t impact his free agency|
|Morris blasts drama surrounding Wizards: It´s messed up|
|Scaloni thrilled for Dybala, Icardi|
|Green´s last-second shot keeps Raptors atop East standings|
|Deschamps praises Griezmann for Giroud gesture|
|Warriors star Curry improving, still out at least three more games|
|Chile 4 Honduras 1: Sanchez, Vidal shine for La Roja|
|Argentina 2 Mexico 0: Icardi, Dybala score first international goals|
|Mickelson calls Tiger the greatest of all time|
|Durant fined $25,000 for using inappropriate language|
|Fizdale isn´t concerned about Knicks´ losing streak|
|No particular concern for Mbappe – Deschamps|
|PSG team-mate Choupo-Moting hopes Neymar injury is not serious|
|McLeish marvels at stylish Scotland´s promotion success|
|Draw proves Poland can play well without Lewandowski – Brzeczek|
|Giggs: Wales let themselves down|
|Sarachan ´moved USA forward´ in interim spell|
|Mickelson lays $200,000 bet with Woods for first hole|
|Dolphins QB Tannehill to start against Colts|
|Murcia edge out Banvit, Bonn crush Opava|
|Neymar injury not serious, says doctor|
|Mancini: Italy ahead of schedule|
|France 1 Uruguay 0: Giroud hits the spot after Mbappe injury blow|
|Portugal 1 Poland 1: Milik penalty salvages precious point as Danilo sees red|
|Italy 1 United States 0: Politano snatches late winner for Mancini´s men|
|Scotland 3 Israel 2: Forrest hat-trick seals Nations League promotion|
|Brazil 1 Cameroon 0: Richarlison fills Neymar´s boots as skipper suffers injury|
|France & PSG star Mbappe suffers shoulder injury|
|Albania 1 Wales 0: Gunter´s night spoiled by Balaj|
|Leeds and Manchester United to meet in friendly|
|Outspoken Smith leaves Cavaliers|
|PSG star Neymar injured for Brazil|
|Juventus midfielder Can back in training after surgery|
|Rams-Chiefs rollercoaster was the NFL´s modern-day masterpiece|
|Ronaldo an AC Milan target in 2017, confirms Fassone|
|Farah could get back on track at Tokyo Olympics|
|PSG still waiting on Alves and Kurzawa|
|Atalanta reject Gasperini to AC Milan speculation|
|Edmonton Oilers name Hitchcock new head coach|
|JR Smith on Cleveland Cavaliers: Tanking ´was always the plan´|
|Chester signs new Wakefield deal|
|F1 Raceweek: Countdown on to Alonso farewell|
|Rain disrupts Lorenzo´s Honda debut|
|VAR a possibility for Champions League knockout rounds|
|FFP vulnerable in areas, says UEFA president Ceferin|