Messi can lead Argentina to World Cup success, says Riquelme

Argentina may not be fancied to win the 2018 World Cup, but Juan Roman Riquelme feels it can compete, with Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi almost singlehandedly led Argentina to the FIFA World Cup 2018 finals 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, the Jorge Sampaoli-led team is not considered among the favourites for Russia 2018.

However, Riquelme – who was capped 51 times by the national team – believes Argentina could have a shot at the title if Messi performs, having been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

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"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."

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