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Argentina's World Cup squad in profile - including star players and key fixtures

Can Lionel Messi finally end the wait for that elusive World Cup trophy?

When you think of the World Cup , Argentina have become almost synonymous with it.

They've been involved in so many memories and moments over the years.

Two-time winners, three-time runners up, the South Americans have seen it all.

Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' at '86, and his goggle-eyed celebration at USA '94.

Michael Owen's wonder goal at France '98, followed by David Beckham's career defining red card in the same game, and his subsequent salvation in 2002.

The list goes on.

Diego Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal against England in Mexico 1986 (Image: Getty Images)

That being said, the Argies haven't won international football's top prize since Maradona led them to the trophy in 1986.

They made the final last time out, only to be denied in extra-time by Mario Gotze's goal for Germany.

And it remains the only box left for Lionel Messi to tick off of his illustrious career CV.

So can 2018 be the year?

Form guide

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero was on the scoresheet in Argentina's fixture with Nigeria (Image: Getty Images)

Well, one look at the form guide might suggest you place your bets elsewhere.

Jorge Sampaoli's men struggled through the qualification process, winning just seven of their 18 group matches.

They left it late to secure qualification in the last game, thanks to a Messi hat-trick earning them a 3-1 win over Ecuador.

Since then they scored a narrow 1-0 win over hosts Russia, before losing 4-2 to Nigeria in friendly matches.

Hardly form to be shouting about, but reaching the finals in the Copa America and the last World Cup have to be considered, and they'll still be well fancied.

Star player

Lionel Messi

Messi is yet to win the World Cup (Image: Getty Images)

Who else?

Considered by many as the best ever, five-time Ballon D'Or winner Lionel Messi is Argentina's captain.

He almost single-handedly dragged his side to the final at the 2014 World Cup, and did the same to ensure his side qualified this time round.

His exquisite hat-trick against Ecuador in their final group match was typical of the standards we have come to expect from Messi.

He astonishingly retired from international football back in 2016, only to quickly reverse his decision for his "love of the country."

Messi went on to bag seven goals in 10 matches during qualifying, and he will have his sights set on finally adding a World Cup winners medal to his trophy cabinet.

Rising star

Paulo Dybala

Paulo Dybala will be making his World Cup debut (Image: Getty Images)

Ok, so we could have chosen someone slightly less obvious.

But it's easy to forget that Paulo Dybala will still only be 24 when the World Cup comes around.

The Juventus playmaker has dazzled opponents, team-mates and fans since joining his club side in 2015 - scoring 45 goals in 86 games.

He has failed to score a full-international goal in 12 appearances, but this summer will be a perfect opportunity as he prepares for his World Cup debut.

Dybala recently grabbed the decisive goal that knocked Harry Kane and Dele Alli's Tottenham side out of the Champions League.

Let's hope we aren't left with a feeling of deja vu in Russia.


Premier League star Nicolas Otamendi is expected to feature for Argentina (Image: Getty Images)

Saturday June 16 - Argentina v Iceland, 2pm, Spartak Stadium, Moscow

Thursday June 21 - Argentina v Croatia, 7pm, Nizhny Novgorod Arena, Nizhny Novgorod

Tuesday June 26 - Nigeria v Argentina, 7pm, St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg

Betting odds

Bookmakers William Hill have installed Argentina as fifth-favourites at odds of 8/1.

*odds correct at time of publishing