NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Time is running out for Lionel Messi to bring Argentina a World Cup, which would give him the one thing that’s missing from a career that ranks among the greatest.
He turns 31 on Sunday, which means this World Cup could be his last chance. It also means that Thursday’s match against Croatia is momentous. He has delivered for his club Barcelona — four Champions League titles, and nine La Liga championships in Spain — but still no World Cup title for Argentina.
Messi missed a penalty — it was saved — in a disappointing 1-1 draw against Iceland in the opening group match. Argentina needs to beat Croatia to clear its path from the three-game group stage to the knock-out round of 16.
Argentina defender Gabriel Mercado says “We have to look at what we need to correct from the Iceland match, but we can’t dwell on it. We have to look forward and win the next match against Croatia.”