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The Argentina captain thinks the knockout stages of the tournament in Brazil represent a different level of competition and wants his country to achieve something special

Lionel Messi believes Argentina’s real World Cup challenge starts now as they prepare to face Switzerland in the round of 16.

Argentina claimed wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria to ease into the knockout stages as Group F winners, but Messi says his side’s path to glory is only just beginning.

"I'm happy to have qualified for the second round as group winners, but another World [Cup] now begins," he wrote on his Facebook page.

"We really want to achieve something big."
 

Messi shook off a disappointing Barcelona season to plunder four goals in the group stages – with match-winning goals in all three of Argentina’s games so far.

Should Argentina beat Switzerland, they will face the winner of Belgium and the USA in the last eight, although a potential clash with rivals Brazil can only occur if both sides reach the final.

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