Published: Tue, June 26, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Messi's Argentina face crunch match for redemption

Messi's Argentina face crunch match for redemption

Former Argentina worldwide Pablo Zabaleta is concerned by how "stressed and unhappy" Lionel Messi has appeared at the 2018 World Cup.

Russian Federation were buoyed by huge support in their first two matches, sweeping aside Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but the wheels came off against Uruguay in a chastening 3-0 defeat, in which they were reduced to 10 men.

'After a group meeting, where the players, the technical staff and the president of AFA, Claudio Tapia, finished exploding the bomb and it was Chiqui himself who told Jorge Sampaoli that he no longer has power over the group'.

And Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said the Super Eagles will show no mercy for the Barcelona star, despite their admiration for his talent.

It had been suggested that 1986 World Cup victor Jorge Burruchaga, the team´s technical director, would replace Sampaoli, but the claims were strongly denied by the Argentina Football Association (AFA).

After Argentina's humiliating defeat to Croatia, reports circulated that Sampaoli had lost the control of his dressing room and surrendered control to the players, namely Lionel Messi. Messi's Russian campaign threatens to be remembered for the tame penalty lick that cost Argentina victory against Iceland and the lacklustre performance that followed against Croatia. "The structure of the game didn't favour him".

Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia
Here's how you can watch the Group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia live on your television and online. Facing elimination, the Saudis fought hard for a goal with Hatan Bahmi getting several early chances.

"We are going to try and improve that and we are sure that is not going to happen (today)".

"But we have worked on that and, for the good of Argentina, I am sure Lionel Messi will have the ball much more against Nigeria than in the previous match", he added.

Sampaoli would not confirm whether he planned to sub goalkeeper Willy Caballero for Franco Armani, who has not played a single minute for Argentina but was in attendance at the news conference.

Musa was restricted to just half an hour off the bench in Nigeria's opening defeat to Croatia but seized his chance when included in the starting XI against Iceland on Friday afternoon. If Argentina and Iceland win and finish with identical records it will be decided by their disciplinary records and then drawing of lots. "In the virtual world, one is made to feel like a criminal".

"I'm not going to stop believing in them". As a player myself, I know that if you go into a game and you don't really enjoy it then it is very hard to play well. We are at tournament and we have to try and compete.

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