With Messi and Ronaldo gone, the Balon d'Or battle is wide open


Argentina - powered by the man considered to be the best in the world, Lionel Messi, 31 - squeaked their way out of the Group Stage, only to fall at the hands (or in this case, feet) of France's national team. After an opening round draw with Iceland where the Argentina attack was nearly completely stifled, they were comprehensively walloped by Luka Modric and Croatia.

The fallout from the defeat to France has already begun, with Javier Mascherano the first of many players expected to retire from global football. The other group teams included Denmark, Peru and Australia.

One of the biggest questions surrounds Messi.

"I think you will see a different Denmark from what you have seen so far and the type of game we have played", Hareide said.

Playing in a "false nine" role, Messi capped a disappointing tournament with another subdued display at Kazan Arena as Argentina bowed out of the last 16 with a 4-3 defeat.

Aguero started Argentina's opening game against Iceland, scoring his first World Cup goal.

"Now is not the time to talk about the future of players and coaches", Ronaldo said.

It appears the Manchester City striker was punished for his post-match comments; "let him say what he wants", he said angrily about Sampaoli. They out possessed the French team and lead two goals to one.

They have since left Russian Federation for home, unknown to them a couple have gone their separate ways following disagreement over who between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is better. His speed caused tremendous difficulty for the Argentine defenders.

With this victory, Uruguay earned a unique distinction of winning four matches in a row in the World Cup since the tournament's inception in 1930.

The game ended with France impressively overtaking Argentina in a 4-3 loss in the 16th round. It was a sad day for the fans, as Javier Mascherano announced his retirement from global football after his team had been eliminated from the tournament.

Sampaoli's team drew the first three qualifiers of his reign, but Messi scored a hattrick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador in the final match to send Argentina to Russian Federation.