(For complete FIFA World Cup 2018 coverage, click here to visit our special WC page)LIONEL MESSI:Alright then boys, our World Cup campaign is going to kick off soon against Iceland. Wait, it’s not just the World Cup anymore, it’s the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM, sponsored-by-McDonalds-with-official-partners-Adidas-Coca Cola-and-Gazprom. Don’t forget to say all of that in public or FIFA will claim your firstborn child for a ritual sacrifice, and believe me, those hijos de hienas mean business, ok?JAVIER MASCHERANO:Of course, boss, of course. I’ll make sure everyone remembers, or I’ll do to them what I did to Robben that time at the last World Cup when I tore my an-MESSI:Thank you Javier, I think everyone gets the point.Now it wasn’t easy getting here, but we managed. We had to win our last qualifier, Chile had to behave like headless chickens against Brazil, and David Ospina had to behave even more senseless than a concussed Loris Karius, but we made it. And do you know why?ANGEL DI MARIA:Because we-MESSI:Because of ME. That’s right, you medio pelo excuses for footballers, me. Oh, did you think I was going to talk about team spirit, determination, pride in wearing the Argentina shirt or some other bullsh*t like that? Hell. No. If it weren’t for me coming out of retirement and doing my thing, you lot would be sitting at home on your asses watching the World Cup on TV, sprawled on your couches in your underwear, crying into your beers because you weren’t good enough to make it. I know that sounds like a great plan to you, Gonzalo, but it would have been pretty miserable, and you all would have hated yourselves. What are we, Venezuelans?GONZALO HIGUAIN:I don’t think that’s very fair-MASCHERANO:Shut up, Gonzalo! The boss is talking. If you don’t keep quiet, I’ll do to you what I did to Robben that time at the last World Cup when I tore my an-MESSI:Javier, that’s ok, we don’t... we don’t need to hear that. Now Gonzalo, you seem to think me calling out you lazy cara rotas is unfair. Well I think it’s unfair that you haven’t scored a competitive goal for your country since October 2016. What about you, Angel, do you think I’m being unfair, with your zero goals since November 2016? Or maybe Kun here thinks it’s unfair to talk about how he hasn’t scored a competitive goal since JUNE BLOODY 2016!I mean, what happened to you guys? Hmm? Have you been in hospital the whole time? Did you lose a foot to gangrene? Did you have a tragic accident that caused you amnesia, because of which you forgot how to kick the ball?Oh wait, none of that happened, because you’ve been just fine scoring goals for your clubs since then. Top-scoring for your clubs, in fact. Winning league titles, in fact.So what happens when you pull on our Albiceleste jersey, eh? What, you think Messi is around, he’ll do it, we can just chill? LUCAS BIGLIA:Come on Leo, there’s no need to be so harsh on these guys, they’re trying, you know.MESSI:Oh they are, are they Lucas? Well, maybe you should try a bit too, don’t you think? Like actually try to do something in central midfield, instead of going on a picnic every time we play and doing the square root of sod all? I used to think maybe I was the only one who couldn’t see what a talentless pintamonas you are, but even Maradona seems to have noticed it –you know what he said about you?“With all the respect in the world that he deserves from me, how could it be imagined he’d be wearing the national team shirt?”I mean, if Maradona can see this so clearly, despite everything he’s on, how can nobody else? How do you keep getting selected? What is it, are the rest of our central midfielders so bad that we have to play you?MASCHERANO:I can do a good job in midfield, boss, if you let me play there. Remember how I made that tackle against Robben that time at the last World Cup when I tore my an-MESSI:Goddamnit Javier, we really do not need to hear anything about that ever again. Ever. You may need to play in midfield, since we don’t seem to have anyone else with any commitment there, or we may need you to play in defence. After all, our number 1 centre-back is Nicolas Otamendi here, who’s as solid in the tackle as any, but whose capabilities in the mental department are as limited as you’d expect from something that escaped Viktor Frankenstein’s lab.OTAMENDI:Lurgh?MESSI:It’s ok Ota, you do your best.But as for the rest of you, I’m not kidding, you’d better do a whole lot better than you have thus far because we are going to achieve diddly squat in this tournament if you all play like you did in the qualifiers. I mean, we scored 19 goals in 18 games – Italy and the Netherlands scored more than that and they couldn’t even make it here!I’ve just about had it till here with you lunkheads doing nothing on the pitch when we play big games, standing around and relying on me to do the job. You find whatever it takes to motivate you, whether it’s those ridiculous gladiator posters they’ve put up over your beds in the training camp, or all the hateful tweets you’ll get if you perform up to your usual standards, and you play some football.Now since everything has to be done by me here -JORGE SAMPAOLI:Actually, as the coach of this team, I have some ideas - MESSI:Jorge, please. The adults are talking. Or at least the adult is talking, the brats are being instructed. So just, you know, go call Sanchez and check he’s not drowned himself in his whiny tears.Now, listen up you lot.Dybala, you start justifying all those nonsensical ‘new Messi’ tags that I know you’ve been getting Italian hacks to use in reports about you, and create some bloody goals, or better yet, score a few. Just remember what happened to Bojan after everyone thought he was going to be the new me. You want to end up getting loaned out from Stoke City?Di Maria, if you pull one more muscle and drop out of the tournament again, I will make sure you don’t have muscles to pull any more, ok? And if you’re not going to manage to score, just create something good for me or one of our forwards.Higuain, if you miss gilt-edged chances at this Cup like you did in the final last time, I swear to God I will pull out whatever little hair you have left on your head and use it as kindling for the stake the fans are going to burn you on.Back in 2014, the Indian people were promised good days, and I thought our football team would have the same. But it’s been three bloody runners-up finishes one after another and we only seem to get worse. The Indians may not have got their ‘acchhe din’, but I’ll be damned if I don’t. Otherwise I’m going to retire, and you know that means you’re not even going to get to a tournament like this to disappoint the whole country.That’s it for me from the inspirational side of things. If you don’t do well at this cup, then Jefecito here will be giving team talks from henceforth, and you know what that means. So if you don’t want to have to listen to how he tore his anus again and again when tackling Robbenat the last World Cup, you’ll bloody well help me win this World Cup. Vamos!Disclaimer: This is a work of satire. The speech and dialogues in this piece are fictional, and no such words were actually spoken by any of the people mentioned in it. The author apologises to any of the people named in the piece for any offence caused. This piece is a work of humour, and is not meant to offend or disparage anyone. We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.