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Argentina's Lionel Messi hopes football pays him back with World Cup win

Jorge Ramos breaks down each of the five qualified South American teams' groups following the World Cup draw.
The ESPN FC crew feel Group D which contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria could prove to be the most exciting group of them all.
Nigeria will again face Argentina at a World Cup, after both were drawn into Group D with Iceland and Croatia.

Lionel Messi hopes football "ends up paying" the debt the sport owes him at the 2018 World Cup after losing three straight finals with Argentina in a three-year span.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said after Messi's hat trick at Ecuador in the 3-1 win in their final qualifier on Oct. 10 that football "owes Messi a World Cup." 

The Albiceleste went into that game in danger of missing out not only on direct qualification but a spot in the playoffs.

Messi's performance earned Argentina a spot...

 By Chris Wright

Lionel Messi will need 23 Argentina shirts to satisfy Iceland's World Cup demands

The ESPN FC crew discuss World Cup Group D, which includes Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia.

Rather than being intimidated, it would appear that Iceland were positively thrilled at the prospect of making their World Cup debut against Argentina in Group D next summer.

Indeed, Iceland right-back Diego Johannesson has warned Lionel Messi to prepare himself for an onslaught when the two teams meet in Moscow on June. 16 -- if only because the Barcelona star is going to have to bring an awful lot of souvenirs with him.

Johannesson, who was born in Spain and plays for Real Oviedo, has instructed...

 By Ben Gladwell

Argentina's Paulo Dybala: Playing for Italy would have been deceit

In an interview with ESPN FC, Lionel Messi hits back at claims he makes the decisions for Argentina.

Argentina international Paulo Dybala says he does not regret turning down the opportunity to play for Italy when he was 19.

Due to his family heritage, Dybala, 24, was sounded out about playing for Italy when he made the breakthrough at Palermo after moving from Instituto AC Cordoba in his native Argentina.

He turned down the opportunity, though, and was handed his Argentina debut in October 2015 before establishing himself alongside Lionel Messi in attack.

"I was asked to play for Italy and I was...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi calls for Gonzalo Higuain inclusion in Argentina WC squad

In an interview with ESPN FC, Lionel Messi hits back at claims he makes the decisions for Argentina.

Lionel Messi says that striker Gonzalo Higuain should be picked for Argentina's World Cup squad.

Higuain lost his place to Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi and Boca Juniors' Dario Benedetto for Argentina's final matches in the South American World Cup qualifiers under coach Jorge Sampaoli.

But in an interview with local channel TyC Sports, broadcast on Wednesday, Messi described Higuain as "a fundamental player, he needs to be there."

Argentina's five-time world player of the year added that Higuain "is...