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Argentina's Lionel Messi hopes football pays him back with World Cup win

Jorge Ramos breaks down each of the five qualified South American teams' groups following the World Cup draw.
The ESPN FC crew feel Group D which contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria could prove to be the most exciting group of them all.
Nigeria will again face Argentina at a World Cup, after both were drawn into Group D with Iceland and Croatia.

Lionel Messi hopes football "ends up paying" the debt the sport owes him at the 2018 World Cup after losing three straight finals with Argentina in a three-year span.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said after Messi's hat trick at Ecuador in the 3-1 win in their final qualifier on Oct. 10 that football "owes Messi a World Cup." 

The Albiceleste went into that game in danger of missing out not only on direct qualification but a spot in the playoffs.

Messi's performance earned Argentina a spot...

Jordi Alba-Lionel Messi combination is 'life insurance' - Barca's Valverde

Craig Burley says Barcelona will have just enough to get past his former side, Chelsea, in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Craig Burley says Barcelona will have just enough to get past his former side, Chelsea, in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde praised the combination of Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi, describing it as important for the team.
Lionel Messi tied Gerd Muller for most goals for one club in the top five European leagues with his 525th in Barca's 2-0 win over 10-man Villarreal.
Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde admits his side's 2-0 win at Villarreal was an important win after other La Liga title challengers won their fixtures.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has described the partnership that has developed between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba this season as the side's "life insurance."

The on-pitch relationship between Messi and Alba has taken on more importance since Neymar's summer departure to Paris Saint-Germain.

With more space to attack on the left, Alba is getting forward increasingly and has already assisted five La Liga goals this season, four for Messi and one for Luis Suarez.

He created two great chances for...

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi on target as Barcelona pads La Liga lead

Steve Nicol praises Luis Suarez for facing his poor run of form head-on and getting rewarded for it in Barcelona's win over Villarreal.
Lionel Messi tied Gerd Muller for most goals for one club in the top five European leagues with his 525th in Barca's 2-0 win over 10-man Villarreal.

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi broke down a stubborn Villarreal to send Barcelona five points clear at the top of La Liga despite an under-par display in a 2-0 victory at Estadio de la Ceramica. Only after the hosts had midfielder Daniel Raba sent off for an ugly tackle on Sergio Busquets on the hour mark did the Catalans start creating the chances they needed to win the game.

Positives

Another clean sheet and a solid defensive performance, despite the absences of Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano,...

Ronaldo 'unfortunate' to be playing in Messi's era - Barca's Rakitic

Lionel Messi tied Gerd Muller for most goals for one club in the top five European leagues with his 525th in Barca's 2-0 win over 10-man Villarreal.

Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic politely disagreed with Cristiano Ronaldo's assumption that he's the best player in the history of football, nominating Lionel Messi for the position instead.

Real Madrid forward Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d'Or this week -- drawing level with Messi in the process -- and later told France Football that he believes he's the greatest to ever play the game.

However, Rakitic does not share the assessment made by the Portugal international, who he says is "unfortunate"...

Lionel Messi matches Gerd Muller's club goals record in win

Lionel Messi tied Gerd Muller for most goals for one club in the top five European leagues with his 525th in Barca's 2-0 win over 10-man Villarreal.

Lionel Messi matched Gerd Muller's long-standing record for scoring the most goals for one club in the top five European leagues on Sunday, netting the second in Barcelona's 2-0 win against Villarreal.

Muller scored 525 goals in 572 appearances for Bayern Munich between 1965 and 1979, a record which had remained untouched for nearly 40 years.

But Messi's goal at the Estadio de la Ceramica drew him level with the German great.

Barca had taken the lead against Villarreal though Luis Suarez after Daniel...

 By Ian Holyman

Cristiano Ronaldo: 'I am the best player in history'

The FC panel give their candid reactions to Cristiano Ronaldo's claim of being the "best player in the history of football."
Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane agrees with Cristiano Ronaldo's claim that he is the best player in the history of the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo has embraced his rivalry with Lionel Messi, after joining the Argentine as a five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or.
Cristiano Ronaldo reflects on his fifth Ballon d'Or triumph, explaining his motivation remains for club and country.
Shaka Hislop points to Cristiano Ronaldo's late-season heroics and UCL triumph as reasons why he beat Lionel Messi in Ballon d'Or voting.
Jonathan Johnson breaks down the Ballon d'Or voting following Cristiano Ronaldo's fifth win and discusses the Real Madrid star's rivalry with Lionel Messi.
Steve Nicol says Cristiano Ronaldo is well deserving of his fifth Ballon d'Or, which now ties him for most all-time with Lionel Messi.

Cristiano Ronaldo has no doubt that he is "the best player in history," the Real Madrid star told France Football upon winning his fifth Ballon d'Or award on Thursday.

His latest win took him level with Barcelona's Lionel Messi for the most all-time honours in football's most prestigious individual award, but speaking to the magazine that organises the Ballon d'Or, Ronaldo insisted he was a cut above.

"No other player has won as many individual trophies as me. And I'm not only talking here about...