Football

Fab four key to success

Lionel Messi has won every major global title bar the World Cup and Argentina are hoping he will be able to tick that last remaining box.

If the "Fantastic Quartet" of Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria are on song, Argentina can emerge victorious in Brazil to claim a third World Cup victory.

Despite boasting a wealth of riches in attack, however, Argentina are playing down their chances of overall victory and setting their sights primarily on ending a quarter-final jinx.

"It's very difficult to become world champions. We mustn't believe we're the best. In fact, we know we're not the best, but we are a (world) power," said coach Alejandro Sabella.

"We can't get involved in triumphalism... We must remain emotionally balanced and the more so when we go out onto the pitch."

Surprise is a key element for Argentina, who play their best football when Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano and di Maria play in midfield behind Messi, Higuain and Aguero.

After a spectacular haul of trophies with Barcelona, Messi has a chance to lead Argentina to glory on the World Cup stage and build on his reputation as one of the all-time greats.

Sabella has built his side around Messi to a far greater extent than his predecessors and, now at the peak of his career, this could well be his best chance to emulate Diego Maradona and bring the World Cup home.

An attack-minded Argentina generally play with Messi alongside close friend Aguero in attack and Barca teammate Mascherano controlling play in the middle.

"The team are looking good and we are getting on well together but, in a World Cup, anything can happen - it is very difficult," said Messi.

SPECIAL

"The games at the World Cup are totally different. First of all, the atmosphere is not like anything else. While the Champions League is great, the World Cup is special."

Messi is hoping to be 100 per cent fit in Brazil, having had a difficult 2013 due to a series of hamstring injuries.

He spent a couple of months on the sidelines before returning in January and this could work in Argentina's favour as he may arrive fresher than other players.

"Apart from the obvious downside, it was good for me physically to have a two-month break," added Messi.

"I was very relaxed working at the Argentine FA facilities. Then after that I went home to Rosario and worked hard there as well, so everything was good.

"To be home with friends and family, just to be there after so much time, is good for me." - Reuters.

World Cup