Messi, Argentina scrape into last 16

Jun 30, 2018, 01:34
Messi, Argentina scrape into last 16

"But we didn't expect the complication of the draw, of suffering so much", said Messi, who had been cheered on by compatriot Diego Maradona watching from the stands, along with a massive following of passionate and loud Argentine supporters. Indeed, Argentinian journalist Fernando Niembro has even accused the captain of taking over squad selection duties from Sampaoli.

With Argentina struggling at the World Cup, getting one point from its first two games, the team, and Messi, had to step up on Tuesday in a must-win match against Nigeria. Shortly afterwards, the Manchester City striker was introduced for the final ten minutes in Saint Petersburg, replacing defender Nicolás Tagliafico.

The standout last-16 tie on paper pits France against Messi and Argentina, two teams who laboured through the group stage.

France qualified comfortably, if not convincingly, top of Group C, while Argentina scraped through Group D and if both sides have remarkable offensive qualities, they have yet to show their full potential.

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Somehow, Argentina are through to the last-16 of the World Cup.

Despite the need for a late goal to earn a first win of the tournament and keep his team in it, Sampaoli feels they deserved their late fortune.

"When Leo came and hugged me I felt very proud and happy because he knows I am passionate every single day".

The game determined who progressed from Group D to the knockout stage and dictated whether or not Argentina forward Lionel Messi - considered by some soccer fans to be the world's best player - would continue to play a role in Russian Federation.

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"As I have said before, my players play with heart, they are true rebels".

However, Sampaoli said the conversation was "not how it was characterised". "The boys gave absolutely everything and I wish it could have led to us going through", the Chelsea star tweeted on Wednesday.

Then against Croatia, Messi was anonymous as the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic bossed the game and they ran out 3-0 winners.

Messi: Yes. So tell her that thank you, that... Rojo revealed that the Barcelona star's words at half-time had inspired his victor, and footage doing the rounds on social media on Wednesday also appears to support the idea that Messi's role isn't exclusively a playing one.

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