Lionel Messi is under increased pressure to redeem himself in Argentina vs Croatia game in Thursday’s pivotal match after eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo scored his fourth goal of the World Cup to send Morocco packing.
France will be looking for a second World Cup Group C win against Peru Thursday while Australia need to bounce back from their heart-breaking defeat to Les Bleus against Denmark. Messi’s teammates have rallied around their superstar captain after his spot-kick was saved in the 1-1 draw against minnows Iceland on Saturday.
Messi is bearing the weight of expectations as Argentina seek a first World Cup trophy since 1986, desperate to crown his glittering career with a major international tournament success.
However so far in Russia, Messi has been overshadowed by Ronaldo, who took his tournament goal tally to four on Tuesday with the winner in Portugal’s 1-0 defeat of Morocco, which condemned the Africans to an early exit.
A defeat against the Luka Modric-led Croatians in Nizhny Novgorod could see Argentina, unthinkably, flirting with a first group stage exit since 2002.
“We are all with him, he knows that he can count on the support of all of us more than ever,” said Argentina striker Paulo Dybala of Messi.
“We are here to help him every moment, and of course we will be at his side,”