Sampaoli to Messi: "Should I bring Agüero on?"

Lionel Messi-led Argentina's struggles in Russia come after their pre-tournament preparations were wrecked by controversy and poor form coupled with a reliance on a top-heavy limited squad

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said that they are ready to go out and battle against France but they will look to control the ball and not get into a physical battle. Indeed, Argentinian journalist Fernando Niembro has even accused the captain of taking over squad selection duties from Sampaoli. Shortly afterwards, the Manchester City striker was introduced for the final ten minutes in Saint Petersburg, replacing defender Nicolás Tagliafico.

Argentina star Lionel Messi is "capable of everything", France goalkeeper Steve Mandanda said ahead of the teams' World Cup last-16 meeting.

Television viewers spotted Messi speaking to his teammates in the tunnel as they were about to emerge for the second half, with Argentina 1-0 up thanks to his goal.

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Messi, however, is the kind of player who can make the difference at any time and Les Bleus are well aware of that.

Sampaoli said: "Leo has such clear vision when it comes to football that he allows us to see things that, sometimes, only a true genius sees".

To reach the knockout stages, Argentina must beat Nigeria and hope Iceland don't beat Croatia.

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"I don't remember such suffering", said Messi when asked if it was the most tense match of his career.

"We need to control the match, that's our starting-point, we need to control the game throughout". If not we suffer, we know we have the best player in the world and we have to benefit from that.

Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses says he was more than devastated after the national team failed to progress to the second round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. I told MESSI that we were going to use a plan which we had already trained, a more offensive one.

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Of the 23 players in the squad, 22 have been given playing time in Russian Federation so far and it is a measure of how deep their talent pool is that reserve midfielder Milan Badelj was named man-of-the-match against Iceland. The 27-year-old Chelsea star has also contributed to three goals already in Russian Federation, and will be looking to add to that tally when the Red Devils go up against Japan in the round of 16.

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