Argentina captain, Lionel Messi, has sensationally declared that he and his Argentina teammates will “have to disappear” if they fail to take their last chance of winning the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Argentina’s last major championship triumph was in 1993 when they emerged winners of the Copa America.
Messi along with his Argentine teammates have failed to end La Albiceleste’s drought, losing in two successive Copa America finals – in 2015 and 2016, and also finishing runners to Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Having been drawn alongside Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in Group D of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Messi admits says Argentina must improve on their game if they are to challenge for the World Cup title in Russia.
“We have to improve if we must aspire to be world champions,” Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner told TyC Sports.
“Today we are some distance from being champions, but there is time for us to prepare.
“Brazil are very good, Spain have great players, Germany is strong, France have a good team – today they are all at a higher level than us.
“People are waiting for this group to leave because it has not won for a long time and those who criticise get tired of always seeing the same faces.
“I think it’s the last opportunity for this group. There is a lot of excitement.
“If we do badly, the entire national team will have to disappear. It’s going to be very difficult for anyone to continue because we have already been here for a number of years.
“I never went over the previous finals. What I have are memories.
“We were worthy of winning them because, without having played well, we had the clearest [chances] – both in the World Cup and the Copas America.
“I would have to review them to see what we did wrong so we don’t repeat them. I think we deserved to win two, at least.”
Messi also thinks Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, should be recalled to the Argentina squad.
Higuain was left out of Jorge Sampaoli’s squad for Argentina’s final two World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador in October, but the Barcelona star feels the Juventus striker is still important to the national team.
“He is suffering for the national team, but he must be in it,” Messi stated.
“For me, he is one of the best number nines in the world. He demonstrates this every weekend at Juventus, but does not play the same with Argentina.
“The critics make him suffer, we have spoken about it many times.
“I believe that this period without the national team did him good. We spoke about it through messages, it was a good thing that he had this period of absence. But he must be in the squad.”
Higuain has scored nine goals and bagged three assists in 13 Serie A starts for Juventus who are in third place in the table, two points behind leaders Inter Milan.