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"I always said I wanted to play in Argentine football one day", Messi told Argentine television station El Trece.

"It's a nice responsibility to represent a whole country at a World Cup". He has confirmed that he is "increasingly sure" that the Catalan club will be the only European club he would ever play for.

Since an extra-time defeat to Germany four years in the World Cup final, Argentina have lost two Copa America finals, too, both times on penalties against Chile.

Given the struggles of the rest of the team and Messi's rescue act in the game against Ecuador, those backing the Albiceleste will be delighted he changed his mind.

"Let no one have doubts that we are going to try everything, as people always ask us".

Asked about Argentina's Group D opponents, Messi added: "Iceland are a team that showed in the last European Championship that they are hard for anyone".

"I have a lot of faith in this group, though".

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Croatia was forced to get through a playoff to qualify for their second consecutive World Cup, despite featuring great players.

"We can't be thinking about becoming World Cup champions, but about arriving as a group in the best way and generating trust that we lack today because of the situations that we have experienced", he said.

"There are various favourites at the moment".

While Messi has won games for Argentina nearly singlehandedly down the years and is still capable of doing so, the issues within the rest of the side make the South American team something of an outsider going into Russian Federation.

"The other day I was talking to a friend and he said to me: "Look, if you had stayed with Spain, you would be world champion", Messi said. "[Winning with] Argentina would be something unique".

As he told it, when he was "15 or 16 years old", the coach of the Spanish national under-17 football squad, "half joking, half seriously", offered him a place on the team.

"It happened in Finland and Cesc [Fabregas] was my teammate at the time. Obviously, it never crossed my mind at any time".