THE mercurial Argentine is 10-1 with Sunbets to pip Brazilian ace Neymar (12-1) to the prize.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is priced at 16-1…
The Real Madrid magician is third favourite along with Antoine Griezmann, (France), Timo Werner (Germany) and Luis Suarez (Uruquay).
As far as Messi is concerned you can never truly rely too much on Argentina at a major tournament, but they should still win Group D involving Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.
To get to Russia, Messi literally dragged Argentina through games on his own, but he’ll obviously need some help in the finals.
So he needs others to step up to lighten his load.
Mind you, Argentina do have Mauro Icardi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria, Ever Banega, Javier Pastore, Angel Correa and Gonzalo Higuain to choose from!
Messi will obviously lead from the front but it’s do or die for this crop of Argentina players, and anything less than a win will be one more disappointment to add to a history of failures.
Losing in three straight tournament finals in the final minutes and extra time has to have some lasting psychological effect on the players.
But they will have to overcome that to fulfill the potential that everyone knows they have.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, is the figurehead of a weaker Portugal team.
But his Real Madrid boss Zinedane Zidane insists it will be Ronaldo – and not Messi – who wins the Ballon d’Or next week.
Said Zidane: “He’s [Ronaldo] human, just like us but he is very different at times. He has no limits, really.
“The fact that he’s going to win his fifth Ballon d’Or explains that. It’s just amazing.
“He deserves it as well. I’m sure Cristiano is going to win his fifth Ballon d’Or.
“It doesn’t surprise me. He wants more and more. He has the ambition to win a sixth or a seventh
“I think he deserves the award for the season he’s had.” – The Sun UK