Argentina: Sampaoli expected to be in charge against Nigeria

Argentina: Sampaoli expected to be in charge against Nigeria

Argentina: Sampaoli expected to be in charge against Nigeria

For most football fans, the knockout stage of a World Cup without Messi and Argentina is nearly unthinkable.

"To Leo (...) I would like to speak with you and tell you that you are not to blame for anything".

Messi, 31, is yet to score or provide an assist at the showpiece event, while he had a penalty saved during a 1-1 draw with Iceland.

Besides Spain, Portugal, Russia and Uruguay the other teams already assured last 16 status before their final round of group matches are France, Croatia, England and Belgium.

Should Iceland fail to bag three points at the Rostov Arena they will be eliminated regardless of the outcome of Nigeria's match with Argentina.

It means Argentina must beat Nigeria - they have done so four times previously at World Cups - to retain any hope of the Barcelona superstar embellishing his magnificent career with the sport's greatest prize.

With national pride hanging in the balance, Lionel Messi and the rest of Jorge Sampaoli's under-fire squad have one final shot at redemption against Nigeria on Tuesday.

The 2014 World Cup final in Brazil was supposed to be Lionel Messi's crowning moment, the chance for him to take his place alongside Diego Maradona in Argentina's pantheon of heroes.

The midfielder is one of two players along with Ivan Perisic named by coach Zlatko Dalic in the lineup who also started in Croatia's resounding 3-0 win against Argentina. "Our goal is to guarantee first place and two results will allow that", Deschamps said.

Messi's future became practically an affair of state when Argentina's President Mauricio Macri called on him to stay. If Nigeria win, Iceland will go out.

Peru will be going home from their first World Cup in 36 years at the end of the group stage, but they will be desperate to have something to cheer about before they do.

"I get the feeling there's a general anger at the heart of the team", said Argentina's legendary 1986 World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona. If it's the Eurovision song contest we always think we're going to win it even though we never make it to the finals.

Asked about his coach's claims, Aguero snapped: "Let Sampaoli say what he wants".

"If he had the ball less than usual it's because Argentina didn't dominate the match as we did against Iceland".

Related news

[an error occurred while processing the directive]