Barcelona Forward Lionel Messi's Top 6 Argentina Moments
If Argentina are to win their third World Cup, a great responsibility falls on the shoulders of one man in particular.
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi wears the captain's armband for his nation, and the Argentine public expect him to come up with some massive performances in Brazil.
The Rosario native will personally be desperate to add a few more moments to his already impressive international highlight reel, too.
Here are some of Messi's greatest matches and best goals since first pulling on the Albiceleste jersey.
6. First (and Only) World Cup Goal
Who would have thought that the long-haired teenager that crashed Argentina's World Cup party in 2006 would soon be the name on everybody's lips?
Messi was just 18 when he was called up by Jose Pekerman to go to Germany, but he did not waste time making an impact on the World Cup.
With just over 15 minutes to go in a group stage match against Serbia and Montenegro, the youngster entered the game, set up a goal for Hernan Crespo and added his own in a 6-0 humiliation.
5. The First International Hat-Trick
A Lionel Messi hat-trick is not exactly a rare event in the Camp Nou or indeed across Europe.
However, when wearing international colours, goals did not always come so readily for the No. 10.
His first triple for the Albiceleste came on February 29, 2012. Switzerland were the unsuspecting victims.
Messi ripped through the defence and scored all of his side's goals in a 3-1 victory.
4. A Thrilling Colombian Comeback
After Alejandro Sabella's Argentine team qualified comfortably for the 2014 World Cup, it is easy to think that the nation cruised effortlessly toward Brazil.
Watching from the start, such a relaxed campaign looked a long way off.
The Albiceleste's comeback from 1-0 down away to Colombia in Barranquilla is taken as a turning point for the squad, having taken a firm grip on the Conmebol standings after that match.
Messi, of course, was in the thick of things.
The recently named Argentina captain scored one goal and had a hand in Sergio Aguero's late winner to grab a priceless three points, keeping Sabella's team on track for the World Cup.
3. A World Cup Triumph
While Argentina have not had the joy of lifting football's most important trophy for 28 years, it is a different story in the youth divisions.
With six World Cup victories at the under-20 level, the Albiceleste kids hold the record for most tournaments won.
Messi was influential in the fifth of those successes. The Barcelona wonderkid, even at 17, was a cut above his opponents.
La Pulga finished with six goals in the 2005 World Cup, including two in the final to take down Nigeria and secure the title.
2. Olympic Gold
So far, major international tournaments with the senior squad have given Messi little joy.
Three quarter-final finishes and an appearance in the 2007 Copa America final, where the Albiceleste were destroyed by Brazil, add up to an indifferent record for the player accustomed to winning every trophy going.
In Beijing in 2008, however, everything was on the Seleccion and Messi's side.
Argentina retained their gold medal, with the likes of Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria laying waste to the opposition.
1. Hat-Trick Against Brazil
Only a select number of Argentine players have had the honour of scoring three goals in a single match for their nation. To do so against arch-rivals Brazil is the stuff that dreams are made of—and that was what Messi achieved in 2012.
In a virtuoso performance, La Pulga hit three of his side's four goals as Argentina staggered to a pulsating 4-3 victory over the Selecao. The way the star marked his hat-trick, scything through the entire Brazil defence en route to goal, further cemented his growing esteem in the eyes of local fans.