Sampaoli retains faith in Messi to deliver


Thousands of Croatians late on Thursday (Jun 21) celebrated with euphoria in the country's streets and squares after their team's 3-0 victory over Argentina powered them into the World Cup last 16.

Should Iceland fail to bag three points at the Rostov Arena they will be eliminated regardless of the outcome of Nigeria's match with Argentina.

Get live updates of Croatia vs Iceland FIFA World Cup 2018 Group D match here.

Sherwood then went on to critique the Argentinian manager and his team even more by saying: "He looked like he was going to fight in a pub with them tattoos".

Instead, defeat by Germany set in motion four years of chaos in the worldwide set-up that has brought one of the great footballing nations to its knees and leaves the South Americans staring at a ignominious early exit in Russian Federation.

Albiceleste fans will likely not be worrying about quarter-final opponents with their team in such a dire position, but should they reach that stage of the competition they will play either the Group A victor, Uruguay, or the Group B runner-up, Portugal.

For most football fans, the knockout stage of a World Cup without Messi and Argentina is nearly unthinkable. Argentina not only need a result versus Nigeria, but also require a favour from Croatia who entertain Iceland. However, the name of Lionel Messi remains absent.

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Messi nearly single-handedly led the squad to the World Cup final four years ago and consecutive Copa America finals in the following two years, but all three ended in defeat.

According to former Argentina national soccer teammate Pablo Zabaleta, the World Cup forward is "stressed and unhappy". "But, we have to take care because we have some players on yellow cards, so I will change the line-up".

Last chance at World Cup glory?

In the 64th minute of the match, with score levelled at one each, Messi's penalty was saved by Hannes Halldorsson.

Tying one's first game at a World Cup doesn't have to be a big deal. Messi will touch the ball a lot more. Messi scored twice when Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in the group stage four years ago.

"It is the most critical situation I have experienced, along with the Ecuador game", said Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia on Sunday.