Argentina football team
Argentina football team.

Messi came close to ending his international trophy drought at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. However, Germany sealed the title with an injury-time winner in the final, leaving millions of Argentina and the Barcelona superstar's fans distraught.

The 30-year-old has revealed he will not continue representing the national team if the La Albiceleste fail to go the distance in Russia. Messi has often been targeted for not being able to replicate his club form at the international level.

Arguably the greatest footballer of all-time, Messi had announced retirement after Argentina's Copa America final defeat in 2016 only to reverse his decision soon after.

The fifth-ranked side made hard work of their qualifying campaign, during which they had three different coaches. Jorge Sampaoli revived the team's fortunes and Messi delivered a hat-trick against Ecuador in the final Conmebol qualifying game to seal an automatic berth.

Argentina though will be hoping to start afresh in Russia but it's going to be hard work the Messi-led side, who are not starting the tournament as favourites.

Argentina national football team
File photo of Argentina national football team.EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images

The Albiceleste face a tricky test in the group stage as they have been drawn in Group D alongside Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland.

IBTimes, India has compiled a list of five players who could be key to Argentina's campaign in Russia. Check them out below.

Lionel Messi

lionel messi, argentina
File photo of Lionel Messi.JUAN RUIZ/AFP/Getty

Messi displayed character and hunger in the final qualifying game against Ecuador in October last year. Argentina fans would want their captain to show similar fighting skills in Russia as they would want their national hero to bow out with a winner's medal.

The forward is heading into the campaign on the back of a productive season, during which he led Barcelona to a domestic double. Having lost four major finals with the Albiceleste, Messi would be hoping to go break the jinx in Russia.

Javier Mascherano

Javier Mascherano
Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi are two of the most experienced members in the Argentina squad.JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images

Mascherano, the influential leader material, has the experience to deliver at the biggest stage but the 34-year-old has been a shadow of his former self in the last few seasons.

He moved from Barcelona to Chinese Super League and got more freedom to play as a holding midfielder, a role that Sampaoli would want his senior figure to play in Russia.

Giovani Lo Celso

Giovani La Celso
Giovani La Celso.Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder might be the dark horse in Argentina's squad, given his all-round development ever since he joined the French champions in 2016.

The 22-year-old can play a holding role and thwart counterattacks effectively and is also known for his excellent passing skills.

Nicolas Otamendi

Nicolas Otamendi Argentina Alexis Sanchez Chile
File photo of Nicolas Otamendi (L).Reuters

Defence is probably one of the weakest links for Argentina but Nicolas Otamendi is a class act. The Manchester United central defender had a dream run in the Citizens' title-winning Premier League campaign.

The 30-year-old, who made the PFA team of the year last season, needs to step up and help improve Argentina's defensive discipline in Russia.

Wilfredo Caballero

Wilfred Caballero
File photo of veteran Argentina goalkeeper Wilfred Caballero.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Injury to first-choice shot-stopper Romero may give Caballero a chance to make his World Cup debut. The 36-year-old veteran has had very little international exposure with the senior national team but had impressed with Manchester City over the years.

The Chelsea goalkeeper has not had enough game time at the Premier League side but he needs to step up and use all his experience in Russia.