In all possibility, this is Messi's last shot at the ultimate footballing honour. Messi had already announced his international retirement after a Final defeat from Chile in Copa America Centenario. It goes both ways for Messi, even if Argentina wins this World Cup, Messi would like to end his international career on a high. There might not be a place for Messi in Argentina if the team loses the championship with a reshuffle likely to happen. Messi echoes the urgency in an interview, “My dream is still the same – to be in the final and lift the cup. We want to lift the Cup this time since this might be the last chance for our generation of footballers to win it.” Will the little magician finally taste the World Cup gold?
The Real Madrid forward was instrumental in Portugal's most recent Euro 2016 win. He is 33 years of age and has stated that he would like to play football at the highest level until he was 41 but he will have to face the music soon. Ronaldo has won five Ballon d'Or awards and the one trophy missing from his shelf is the World Cup. So, this year's World Cup may his final chance to get the ultimate trophy in football.
At the age of 38, Tim Cahill looks set to play in his fourth World Cup finals after being included in Bert van Marwijk's final 23-man Australia squad. If Cahill finds the net in Russia, he will be only the fourth player to score at four World Cups, joining Pele and German strikers Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose. Cahill insists that "given the chance, I'll always produce when it counts". Cahill is the Socceroos' all-time top scorer, with 50 goals, and has 105 caps for Australia, which is a record for an outfield player. "I'm not naive enough to think I'm indispensable because no player is," he said.
Former Barcelona defensive midfielder, Mascherano has made his intentions clear that this World Cup will be his final tournament with Argentina. Mascherano played an important part for Argentina in Brazil 2014. "My cycle with the national team ends in Russia," Mascherano told a TV news channel. "It's very clear to me that that will be it. There's nothing after that. Mascherano has made 143 appearances for Argentina since his debut in 2003. He like Messi would want to finish his international career with a title.