The outcome of what could be their final tournament World Cup campaigns hangs in the balance as Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski prepare for Wednesday’s match between Argentina and Poland.

One or both of the biggest names in European club football could miss out on Qatar’s knockout rounds. Therefore end their respective careers without ever experiencing victory at the most coveted competition.

Messi has already scored twice in his latest attempt to follow in Diego Maradona’s footsteps. Lift Argentina out of Group C after they were humiliated by Saudi Arabia in their opening game.

Argentina defeated Mexico 2-0 to save their campaign and move up to second place in the standings. One point behind leaders Poland and tied with Saudi Arabia by three points. However, the 35-year-old Messi’s Qatar campaign can only go into December with a victory.

Fans in Argentina and the throngs of Messi supporters who want to see him win the World Cup tournament would be devastated by an Argentine exit.

A fitting end to one of football’s best players’ careers would also result from this. But coach Lionel Scaloni believes that such antics are unneeded.

After his team defeated Mexico to restart their challenge, he observed. “It’s hard to make them understand that the sun will rise tomorrow, win or lose.”

What counts is how you go about things.

Lewandowski’s “childhood dream” of scoring his first World Cup goal came true in his fifth game in the tournament. Moreover, he had a 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, and he was moved to tears.