As the world waits to see if Lionel Messi can drag la albiceleste kicking and screaming to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, The Panenka revisits some of the Barcelona phenomenon’s best moments for Argentina.

Argentina vs Nigeria, World Youth Championship 2005

Messi had a dream tournament as he played a key role in all of their knockout games. An equalizer against Columbia, a goal and an assist against title favorites Spain, the opening goal against the defending champions Brazil, and two penalties against Nigeria in the final, helped clinch Argentina’s fifth championship. Messi won the golden boot and was awarded the golden ball.

Argentina vs Serbia and Montenegro, World Cup 2006

Messi became the youngest player to represent Argentina at a World Cup when he came on as a substitute in the 74th minute against Serbia and Montenegro. In what was a 6-0 win for Argentina, Messi set up the fourth goal and scored the final goal to become the youngest goalscorer at the tournament.

Argentina vs Brazil, Friendly 2012

Leo knocked in his first hat-trick in a friendly against Switzerland in 2012, before then notching his second in a terrific 4-3 victory against Brazil in a friendly.This is possibly Messi’s most complete performance wearing his country’s shirt, as he scores a late winner via a trademark slaloming run from the halfway line and powerful left-foot finish.

Argentina vs Iran, World Cup 2014

At World Cup 2014 the Rosario-born genius captains his country to the World Cup final. Messi scored in all three group-stage games, with the pick of the bunch against Iran in the form of a stunning late winner from outside the box.

USA vs Argentina, Copa America 2016

The Barcelona forward become Argentina’s all-time top scorer, beating Gabriel Batistuta’s tally of 54 goals. He achieved this feat with a sumptuous free kick against the hosts USA in the semi-final of the Copa America Centenario.

Argentina play Equador on October 10, 2017, in a game where a win could secure qualification to the World Cup in Russia.