Group D pits the Argentines against the Croats. Both teams boast players in the top echelon of world football, including one at the very pinnacle. Nigeria and Iceland are no slouches either but will find it difficult to crack such a list.

5. Pablo Dybala

The ironic thing about this selection is it is highly likely Dybala will not play a prominent role in Russia. Jorge Sampaoli has not managed to figure out how to combine the player once coined “Mini Messi” with the actual Messi, and that is a shame to not only Argentina fans but fans of the beautiful game. Regardless, Dybala’s quality deserves to be recognised even if it won’t be on display.

4. Ivan Rakitic

One third of what will likely be one of the best central midfields on display in Russia. Few players have reinvented themselves as much Rakitic has over the years. The Barcelona man will be tasked with providing the platform Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic will look to perform on and he looks up for the task. Industry, tactical intelligence, and the ability to get the ball to the feet of the Maestro’s of the team is what will be asked of him and the odds are in favour of him delivering.

3. Sergio Aguero 

Will this finally be the summer we see a FIT AND FIRING Sergio Aguero line up for Argentina? We hope so because only the worst among us are looking forward to seeing Gonzalo Higuain gather and turn with the pace of a semi-truck with the ball up top for Argentina. This may well be the last major international tournament Kun partakes in and hopefully it’s one he displays his full range of qualities in.

2. Luka Modric

If you do not enjoy the sight of Luka Modric dominating a game of football from the centre of the field then you are simply a sad, sad human being. The Madrid ace has just claimed his third consecutive Champions League title, and despite currently being embroiled in a scandal back home and not being in the good graces of a number of Croatian fans, he will still be expected to lead the team. Teammate Verdan Corluka recently stated Croatia is tired of underachieving at tournaments. If there is to be any change to that then it will be of Luka Modric’s doing.

1. Lionel Messi

Well, this is as obvious a selection as one could expect. There could be no other. Lionel Messi is still indisputably the best player on the planet. All eyes will be on him as he attempts to drag the team he dragged to the World Cup to ultimate glory. It is an unenviable task that we would not wish on anybody, but his season with Barcelona will have given him the best possible preparation for that. This will be the Messi’s first tournament where his role for his club is close to that of the one Argentina will demand of him. Good Luck.