Lionel Messi at World Cup 2014: The path to immortality for the Argentina captain

The Barcelona maestro again played a crucial role in seeing his side through to the next round
  • @simonrice

Lionel Messi's dream of joining the immortals remains intact after Argentina came through 1-0 against Switzerland after extra-time.

The captain of the side played a crucial role yet again with his surging run through midfield ending with a pass to Angel di Maria that the winger tucked away first time.

Messi has already won three Champions League titles, countless domestic trophies with Barcelona and four Ballon d'Ors. All incredible achievements but without the World Cup on top, there will always be a strong argument that he failed to match those already immortal players - Pele and Diego Maradona.

With victory over Switzerland the Barcelona player is one step closer to achieving that. But what now stands in his way?



Belgium or United States

Maradona pictured in the win over Belgium in 1986


A win for Belgium would see a repeat of the 1986 semi-final. In that match Maradona scored twice and Argentina went on to win the tournament in Mexico. A repeat result would do nicely for Argentina but they will come up against a tough side packed with Premier League stars that won all three of their group games. If it is the United States lying in wait, Argentina will be hugely favoured to progress.



Netherlands or Costa Rica

The Dutch would be the most likely opponents


Costa Rica have never made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup before but they could still go further. Captain Bryan Ruiz was on target for the second time in the tournament during their win on penalties over Greece and the Central Americans have been the surprise package of the tournament. Argentina have played them six times before and never lost. The Netherlands would be the more likely semi-final opponents for Messi and his team. They've met at the World Cup four times before, with the Netherlands winning 4-0 in 1974 and Argentina getting revenge with a 3-1 win in 1978. In 1998 Dennis Bergkamp scored one of the most famous World Cup goals to win his side the game while in 2006 they played out a goalless draw in the group stage.



Brazil, Colombia, Germany or France

The Maracana will host the final


There will be a semi-final match-up between a European side and a South American one, with hosts Brazil to play Colombia and Germany against France in the quarter-finals - although which sides make it through is difficult to predict. The dream final would be the hosts Brazil against Argentina. If Messi is to join the immortals, it will be at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.