Messi can't win the World Cup alone, says Argentina chief
Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia said Lionel Messi, at 30, has "the ambition and the need" to win the World Cup.
Lionel Messi cannot win the World Cup on his own and needs his Argentina team-mates to raise their game to help him, says Claudio Tapia.
Messi cut a forlorn figure as Argentina were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, leaving him without the winners' medal that would help to cement his place in history alongside Pele and Diego Maradona as one of the game's greatest players.
Tapia – the president of the Argentina Football Association - acknowledged that this might be the 30-year-old's last opportunity to win the tournament, but said even the five-time Ballon d'Or winner wouldn't be able to guide Argentina to glory if his team-mates didn't perform at their best.
"Football has evened itself out," Tapia told La Nacion. "We have the best player in the world but we have to help him, he cannot to do it alone.
"He's very mature and to have him is a privilege. He's number one, he has the ambition and the need to win this World Cup."
The two-time tournament winners will face Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria in a group they will be clear favourites to win, but Tapia said that falling short of the semi-finals would not constitute a failure for Argentina.
Since Alejandro Sabella's departure in the aftermath of the 2014 World Cup, Argentina have been coached by Gerardo Martino, Edgardo Bauza and Jorge Sampaoli, and Tapia is not expecting miracles from the latter.
"We're the only team that has had three coaches and reached the World Cup," said Tapia. "The other teams have had work that has been going on over four years."