Despite a troubled and lackluster qualifying campaign, Argentina will always arrive at a World Cup finals full of optimism and belief.
In search of their third trophy - and notably, Messi's first - La Albiceleste arrive in Russia with a plethora of fierce attacking options. This, however, has distracted many onlookers of the gooey, soft middle that Argentina are suffering from: underlined in their recent 6-1 friendly loss to Spain.
In Group D they have Nigeria, Croatia, and Iceland for company. Not quite the 'Group of Death' that every World Cup's narrative seems to include, however, a competitive set of three fixtures against sides who all have a shot at escaping the group stages.
Argentina is a football-mad nation, with the hopes of the nation hanging around the neck of Jorge Sampaoli and his squad. We've seen the Ronaldo World Cup, the Maradona World Cup, the Zidane World Cup... can Messi add his name to this illustrious list of finals influencers?