Gudmundsson and Iceland out to anger Messi as they did Ronaldo

Gudmundsson and Iceland out to anger Messi as they did Ronaldo

A strong showing by Ronaldo in Russian Federation, capped off with lifting the trophy, would nearly certainly clinch it for him.

And the Brazilian reckons Ronaldo's decision to leave Manchester United for Real in 2009 was a wise choice. Greg Johnson, editor-in-chief of the website "Football.London", believes Ronaldo has shown more adaptability than his rival throughout his career.

Latin American sides account for the third and fourth oldest squads as well, in Mexico and Panama respectively, while Brazil are eighth out of the 32 teams.

Argentina should get out of the group stages comfortably, but it remains to be seen how far Messi's brilliance can take them.

Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires will be rooting for Argentina at the World Cup, even after the team's controversial cancellation of a friendly match against Israel earlier this month. "There is much to admire in that". That was followed by a pair of losses in the final of the 2015 and 2016 Copa America. Such is the hysteria that Messi's biographer, Sebastian Fest, said it had got to the stage where "it nearly amuses him not to sing it".

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He was directly involved in nearly half of Argentina's goals in qualifying, despite playing in only 10 of their 18 games, and in the 11 months up to October a year ago, no Argentina player, bar Messi, scored a competitive goal. CBS Sports will have you covered for each game, all the important news and more, as well as profiles of all of the teams.

"Argentina's problem is that they are not psychologically prepared to play without Messi", Cherchésov told La Vanguardia.

With so little separating Ronaldo and Messi right now, perhaps it then comes down to a fundamental question regarding football and how you like your footballers. Is the great player he who elevates teams into the pantheon through moments of breathtaking individual brilliance or he who, like a conductor, orchestrates the team for a song of victory?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will both be acutely aware that they have a golden opportunity to cement their status as the greatest footballer of all time over the next few weeks.

Though their fall from grace hasn't been pretty, they've managed to stop the decline and slowly rebuild themselves into a top side once more.

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