Live updates of the final games in group D at the Fifa World Cup as Argentina face Nigeria and Croatia play Iceland.
Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player in history, has had a miserable World Cup and must turn it around immediately to save Argentina from a humiliating early exit from the tournament.
Messi leads Argentina into a must-win Tuesday game against Nigeria at St. Petersburg Stadium, where the African team would advance out of Group D with a victory. The South Americans are winless at the World Cup, Messi has yet to score a goal, and a victory against Nigeria won't guarantee a spot in the round of 16. Argentina must win, and get help from Croatia, which has already advanced.
Croatia has no pressure in its match against Iceland, which must win its final Group D game in Rostov-on-Don to advance. If Iceland wins, Argentina is out and Messi's international career might be over.
Messi turned 31 two days before the match, and there's strong speculation he'll retire from the national team if Argentina loses.
"That will be our main goal, to make it Messi's last World Cup game," Nigeria defender Bryan Idowu said. "As much as we enjoy watching Messi play, it's against us. There's only one option for us, (which) is that he plays his last game in St. Petersburg."
Argentina fans have been livid over the performances of the national team in this tournament, with much of the wrath directed at Messi. Although Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is a fan of the five-time world player of the year, he has no sympathy for Messi's plight Tuesday.
"Everybody loves him," Rohr said. "But in football there is no mercy, there is no pity. Everyone wants to win and no one can make any gifts, even if we like him so much."
Messi, whose 64 career goals for Argentina, missed a penalty in Argentina's opening match, a 1-1 draw with Iceland. He also failed to score in a 3-0 loss to Croatia. It's part of a disappointing international run in which Messi's only medal with Argentina came 10 years ago at the Summer Olympics.
He didn't score in the 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup final four years ago, and was on the losing team in the Copa America finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016.
The match will be the fifth meeting between Argentina and Nigeria at the World Cup, and Argentina has won the last four. Messi scored twice when Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in the group stage four years ago.
Iceland, meanwhile, is the nation with the smallest population ever to qualify for a World Cup with 350,000 inhabitants. The entire nation has been following the squad, which is known at home as "Our Boys." The draw against Argentina was an upset, but Iceland then dropped the next game 2-0 to Nigeria.
Iceland beat Croatia in a World Cup qualifier, and now finds its rival in its path again.
"We know the scenario when we play Croatia, it's going to be a really tough game," coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said. "We've often said we're like a married couple. We're trying to get divorced, but we always meet up again."