Jorge Sampaoli feeling the pressure as Argentina seek unlikely progress

26 June, 2018, 22:16 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • GETTYLionel Messi has been told to retire from international football

But Argentina now has to face the African team, which showed that it has attacking prowess and a fighting spirit, in their final Group D match Tuesday in St. Petersburg.

Despite picking up just one point from their first two games, Argentina could still reach the round of 16 if they beat Nigeria on Tuesday and Iceland fail to beat Croatia - with qualification potentially coming down to goal difference if Iceland win.

Among many permutations, the most simple is that Argentina must win and hope Iceland do not beat Croatia, in order to definitely qualify.

Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has denied that he was involved in a feud with his squad ahead of their final Group D fixture against Nigeria.

Pablo Zabaleta has made shocking revelations about the emotional state of Argentina star player Lionel Messi's emotional state.

"You can become isolated and it becomes hard to face adversity, but we have to do that", Sampaoli said. To see Leo looking so stressed and unhappy at this World Cup was a real worry.

Before Sergio Aguero's goal against Iceland no other Argentina player had scored for the national team in 600 minutes, 12 internationals ago, and no one's scored since either. Portugal eventually had to play out a draw as they finished second in Group B meaning in the Round of 16 contest they will be up against Uruguay and not Russian Federation.


The team have been undermined by a broader crisis afflicting the Argentine game, tangled up with politics and a power struggle in the AFA (Argentine Football Association) management that broke out in 2014.

Messi has struggled in Russian Federation thus far, missing a penalty in his side's 1-1 draw with Iceland, before struggling in the stunning 3-0 defeat to Croatia. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Messi and Argentina as they battle for survival.

"We know the scenario when we play Croatia, it's going to be a really tough game", coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said.

"I've been sharing my room with Willy, we've been sharing the training sessions and spending time together day after day", he said. If Iceland win, it will be time to get the calculators out.

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

"That will be our main goal, to make it Messi's last World Cup game", Nigeria defender Bryan Idowu said.

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