Argentina's Lionel Messi looks 'stressed and unhappy' - Pablo Zabaleta

26 June, 2018, 17:00 | Author: Elena Meyer
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Argentina would also advance if they win 2-0 and Iceland 1-0 - both sides would have four points and minus one goal difference, but the two-time world champions would have three goals to Iceland's two and progress on goals scored.

Head coach Jorge Sampaoli denied any unrest in the camp though, after reports in Argentina suggested several senior players were unwilling to follow Sampaoli's orders.

Argentina's fate is no longer in their own hands after their 3-0 loss to Croatia on Thursday and they now need a win and nothing less against the Nigerians on Tuesday.

Despite the struggles on the pitch, a large group of Argentina supporters gathered outside the hotel where the squad are staying and began to sing songs.

All 23 players, the coaching staff and Tapia, seething from their nearly humiliating defeat following the most lacklustre of performances, met in the team hotel to thrash out a crisis meeting, where the power struggle looks to have hit its apogee.

This thinking stems from reports that the players from 1986 World Cup-winning side want to take over the federation, with players calling Jorge Burruchaga, now the general manager of the national side, to replace Sampaoli.

"I think scoring against Argentina isn't that hard for me", he smiled after his man-of-the-match performance in Volgograd on Friday.

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"His body language was completely the opposite before the Croatia game".

"The Argentinian national team is world-renowned, so, naturally, we could not forget about such an important event as the birthday of its captain", said Sports Minister of the Moscow Region Roman Teryushkov.

With players like Sergio Agüero, Ángel Di María, Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala, Cristian Pavón, Maximiliano Meza and Ever Banega, Argentina should be terrorizing opponents on the attack.

"Leo is fine", insisted veteran midfielder Javier Mascherano, who knows Messi better than most having spent eight years as his club teammate at Barcelona. "I would never say to my team that we're playing for a draw". First he had a penalty saved by Ali Beiranvand and was later rescued by a review as Iran's players called for him to be sent off following an incident with Morteza Pouraliganji.

"The way the match was structured against Croatia didn't suit Messi", the coach said.

"We have to play the game with a lot of heart, and a lot of mental strength, to make things safe for us".

The players can listen to the manager - and they should also be able to express themselves about what they do not like from him.

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