The Argentina coach, though, insists the squad is united. The expectation was high and so far Messi was on the low, possibly immersed in dancing to Flowking Stone's song, "Go Low". He's a five-time FIFA Player of the Year, has led Barcelona to three Champions League titles and holds a long list of scoring records, including the most goals in a club season - 73 in 2011-2012.
There is a growing rumour around the Argentina football team that coach Jorge Sampaoli has lost his influence over La Albiceleste in the wake of abysmal performances in FIFA World Cup group matches.
The Barcelona star, at the age of 31, may have played his last World Cup game in a career curiously unfulfilled at global level despite his astonishing achievements with Barcelona and his multiple individual awards.
Only a championship would allow Messi to fully escape Maradona's shadow. "But we know that if we show solidarity in defence, we can stop a player like him".
The Barcelona star got off to a bad start in front of goal after missing a penalty in the 1-1 draw with Iceland.
You hoped - no football fan will be unable to admire the Argentinian's extraordinary talents - that goal against Nigeria, where two delectable touches and a flawless finish, would reignite Messi's tournament; that the goal would be the catalyst for the little magician to turn on the style, like he does so often for Barcelona; that France would be the ones who would face his wrath next in the last 16.
"I'm very happy, and it's flattering to be compared to a great player like Pele", he said.
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The Queen was all smiles at the event as she shook hands with David Beckham and Nicola Adams before the ceremony began. It is a sign that the Monarch is ready for Meghan to take on more royal duties as she gracefully met the youngsters.
But Crespo - who scored 35 goals in 64 games for Argentina - claims the dependence makes complete sense.
The game against France is a showdown between Messi and Antoine Griezmann, who at the start of the summer looked destined to join the Argentine at Barca but eventually opted to prolong his stay at their Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid.
"I think we might lose France and Uruguay but both games will be good to watch". France has had its own problems; the French have lacked cohesion and their offensive stars have yet to shine, and their victories over Australia and Peru were far from decisive.
France emerged as winners in Group C; they remained unbeaten in the group where they faced Denmark, Peru and Australia.
The two teams open the knockout rounds today in Kazan.
Messi, at the age of 31, may have played his last World Cup game in a career curiously unfulfilled at global level despite his astonishing achievements with Barcelona and his multiple individual awards.
Had he done that, then Messi would have gone into another realm, the kind that fantasy is made of.
But that "thigh of God" goal proved the only highlight for a man considered by many the greatest to have played the game.