Lionel Messi can lead Argentina to World Cup success, says Juan Roman Riquelme
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Lionel Messi can lead Argentina to World Cup success, says Juan Roman Riquelme

Argentina football team may not be fancied for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but Juan Roman Riquelme feels they can contend seriously with Lionel Messi in the ranks.

football Updated: Dec 19, 2017 15:31 IST
2018 FIFA World Cup,Lionel Messi,Argentina football team
Juan Roman Riquelme (centre), former Argentinal football teammate of Lionel Messi (right) feels if the FC Barcelona superstar plays well, nothing can stop the team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.(Getty Images)

Argentina can win the 2018 World Cup in Russia if Lionel Messi is at his best, according to Juan Roman 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.

“I don’t know Sampaoli. It is important that Argentina can win the World Cup. We want to celebrate and when there are players as important as Messi, you depend on them a lot.”

Messi missed out on winning a sixth Ballon d’Or this year, with Cristiano Ronaldo instead joining him on a record five.

Riquelme believes his countryman is the world’s best, but he paid tribute to both the Barcelona star and Real Madrid forward.

“It’s Messi and we’re lucky he’s Argentinian. Cristiano Ronaldo served Messi and Messi Cristiano Ronaldo,” he said.

“Both gave themselves strength to share the prizes. I think Messi is the best. They are incredible.”

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 15:31 IST