The Argentina squad will be confronted by the winking face of Cristiano Ronaldo outside their hotel in Kazan, where they will play France in the World Cup last 16 on Saturday.
A three-floor-high mural depicting Ronaldo winking was painted last year near the Ramada hotel, where the Portugal team stayed during the FIFA Confederations Cup.
By a bizarre twist of fate, the same hotel was chosen by the Argentinian team who are set to play against 1998 World Cup winners France at Kazan Arena on June 30.
France had earlier sealed a place in the knockout stage by topping Group C. They booked the Mirage hotel in Kazan, one of the two residences in the city licensed for the World Cup, leaving their Argentinian counterparts with no option other than the Ramada.
A giant Ronaldo could be the last thing Argentina star Messi wants to see, with the pair frequently trading records and with much debate as to which of the duo is the greatest of their generation.
Messi had to sit back while Ronaldo opened the World Cup in specular fashion, scoring four goals in his first two games while the Argentina captain was largely anonymous, missing a penalty in the game against Iceland.
The last round of games saw a reverse in fortunes, however, as Ronaldo missed a spot-kick in his team’s draw with Iran, while Messi finally opened his World Cup 2018 account with a fine goal against Nigeria.
That came in a dramatic game as Argentina narrowly avoided an early exit from Russia, scoring a late goal against Nigeria in a 2-1 win which granted Messi and Co. a ticket to the knockout stage.
France registered the tournament’s first 0-0 in the game against Denmark on Tuesday, but finished first in Group C on seven points.