World Cup 2018: Argentina players have last chance - Pablo Zabaleta

Media playback is not supported on this device

World Cup 2018: Is Lionel Messi the GOAT or a mere human?
France v Argentina
Venue: Kazan Arena, Kazan. Date: Saturday, 30 June at 15:00 BST.
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 14:30 BST and the BBC Sport website; Listen on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

A number of Argentina's big-name players will not get another chance to win the World Cup, says former defender Pablo Zabaleta.

Argentina have not won the tournament since 1986, and 15 of their 23-man squad in Russia are aged 30 or over.

They meet France in the last 16 on Saturday (15:00 BST), with the winners advancing to the quarter-finals where they will meet Portugal or Uruguay.

"It's the last chance for many of them," Zabaleta told BBC Sport.

Since losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Brazil, Argentina have finished runners-up at the 2015 and 2016 Copa America.

Captain Lionel Messi, who will be 35 when the next World Cup takes place in 2022, is among those who risk ending their international careers without a major trophy.

Earlier in June, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, 33, "probably have one last chance" to win the World Cup.

Other players in the squad who are aged 30 or over include former Barcelona and Liverpool player Javier Mascherano, 34, midfielder Enzo Perez, 32, and 30-year-old forwards Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

"When you see the players playing in this World Cup it means a lot to them," added Zabaleta, who played in Argentina's 2014 World Cup final defeat.

"That's because probably it's the last chance for many of them to achieve something with the national team."

Media playback is not supported on this device

'The boy is back in town' - stunning Messi goal gives Argentina lead

Argentina won their two World Cup encounters with France and on both occasions - in 1930 and 1978 - they reached the final.

Both France, world champions in 1998, and Argentina have yet to show their best form in Russia but Zabaleta is hoping both teams produce an entertaining match.

"I have been watching France the last two games and it also seems they have not been great," added the former Manchester City and West Ham defender.

"But when you look at the French team they have great players in every position, two or three options in all positions.

"As a spectator you will be expecting a great game."

Top Stories