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 By Tim Vickery

Brazil's reserves remaining a secret; Argentina's goalkeeper drama hindering WC preparations

Brazil have won a record-breaking five World Cups. Can Tite's men make it six in Russia?
After humiliation on home soil for Brazil in 2014, Ian Darke and ESPN's expert panel feel redemption could be in the cards for Neymar and company.
ESPN FC's Brian McBride shares his thoughts on how Argentina will cope at the World Cup without injured, No. 1 goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

The World Cup preparations of both Brazil and Argentina have been hit by problems this week.

In the case of Brazil, it has to do with their reserve list. Coach Tite went straight to the announcement of his list of 23. The identity of the other 12 players who are on the standby list were not revealed, for any appreciable reason. One or two names have dribbled out, but for some mysterious motive the reserve players have been kept secret from the public.

Those involved in the World Cup -- all of those...

Lionel Messi's achievements cannot yet be fully appreciated

The scale of Lionel Messi's achievements on the football pitch are too immense to appreciate in real time.
The scale of Lionel Messi's achievements on the football pitch are too immense to appreciate in real time.

This is a profile of Lionel Messi, who is part of ESPN's World Fame 100.

We are not yet fully aware of the place that Lionel Messi has already carved for himself in the history of football. The scale of his achievements will be better appreciated after he retires from the sport.

With his daily feats, Barcelona's star generates a false belief that it is simple to leave opponents behind, to assist when there's a wall in front, or to score using all possible resources. We are so used to seeing him...

Cristian Pavon's could be Argentina's World Cup secret weapon

After their runners-up finish in 2014, the ESPN FC crew assess Lionel Messi and Argentina's chances of lifting the World Cup in Russia.

Cristian Pavon was always a confident kid. Long before he was a star for Boca Juniors, and long before his dream of representing Argentina at a World Cup became reality when he was named in Jorge Sampaoli's final squad for Russia 2018, he already trusted fully in his ability.

The footage makes that clear.

Pavon is 12 years old and has just produced a decisive performance for the football school in his hometown of Anisacate, Cordoba province. The interviewer from a local television station asks...

 By Tim Vickery

Jorge Sampaoli must build Argentina around Lionel Messi

After their runners-up finish in 2014, the ESPN FC crew assess Lionel Messi and Argentina's chances of lifting the World Cup in Russia.
With the clock ticking on Lionel Messi's international career, Ian Darke poses the question whether Argentina have enough firepower to win the World Cup.
It goes without saying that Lionel Messi is Argentina's only hope. Here's just how much he meant during their rocky World Cup qualifying campaign.

While many in Europe might have the opinion that Jorge Sampaoli is the best coach of the 32 who are taking teams to the World Cup, not many in Argentina would share the same view.

There are two reasons for this. First, he made his name abroad, specifically with the Chilean national team, and took over as Argentina coach last year with no significant track record in the country, which is always inclined to bring a wary feeling to one of the world's proudest footballing cultures.

The second reason...

Argentina, Lionel Messi under pressure to deliver World Cup glory in Russia

With the clock ticking on Lionel Messi's international career, Ian Darke poses the question whether Argentina have enough firepower to win the World Cup.
It goes without saying that Lionel Messi is Argentina's only hope. Here's just how much he meant during their rocky World Cup qualifying campaign.

The 2018 World Cup is just over a month away, and all 32 teams are preparing in earnest for their shot at the trophy in Russia. ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14. Find all 32 teams here.

Who they are

Captain: Lionel Messi
Manager: Jorge Sampaoli
Nickname: La Albiceleste
FIFA rank (as of April 12, 2018): 5

How they qualified

Though Argentina finished third in CONMEBOL qualifying, the road to get there was full of bumps. Namely, unexpected defeats...



 By Tim Vickery

Argentina's Ramiro Funes Mori out to prove fitness when Everton visit West Ham

With Wayne Rooney being linked to a move to MLS, the FC panel discuss which destination will suit the Evertonian best in the twilight of his career.

There is not too much at stake in Sunday's last round of Premier League action. True, there is the battle for the fourth and final place in next season's Champions League, and the fight to avoid the last relegation slot. But even in these cases, drama is not guaranteed.

Liverpool are firm favourites for the former, while Swansea seem doomed to the latter. And elsewhere, the season comes to a close with a collection of glorified friendlies -- including the match between West Ham and Everton.

But...