Messi and Ronaldo gear up for knockout phase

Posted June 30, 2018

Indeed, Argentinian journalist Fernando Niembro has even accused the captain of taking over squad selection duties from Sampaoli.

Lionel Messi is not dictating Argentina's team selection and tactics, manager Jorge Sampaoli said before Saturday's World Cup tie with France. Shortly afterwards, the Manchester City striker was introduced for the final ten minutes in Saint Petersburg, replacing defender Nicolás Tagliafico.

Held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland and thumped 3-0 by group winners Croatia, Argentina were hanging on by a thread coming into the Nigeria match, having proved they were vulnerable in defence and struggling to get Messi on the ball. But he also inspired his team off the pitch and showed a level of leadership unseen in previous matches, dragging his side through after a shocking group stage display.

That scenario sparked debate ahead of Thursday's England-Belgium group match - was it better to win and enter the tougher side of the draw or lose and face potentially easier fixtures down the line?

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An over joyed reporter said, 'no way, no way did you score with this foot?'

"He has a special ability to see the game that is only possible for a genius and a lot of the time it is hard to be at the level of a genius like him".

"It's all great for the history books in Croatia but if we don't win against Denmark, when someone asks you what you did, what can you say?"

"We would expect all players, former players, staff, fans, everyone to behave in a respectful manner". "It was hard for us but luckily we were able to win".

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After a penalty from Victor Moses cancelled out Lionel Messi's opener, the Albiceleste were in desperate need of a further goal to keep themselves in the World Cup. Pantarotto had interviewed the FC Barcelona star recently during the World Cup and presented him with a gift.

"A coach who has to train Leo knows that everybody around him needs to make him feel secure and if we are able to create space for Leo he can create opportunities".

"We will mark him with the same respect we mark everyone, despite him being a superstar", said Sebastian Coates of Ronaldo.

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