Messi making the decisions for Argentina? I’m in charge, says Sampaoli

Messi making the decisions for Argentina? I’m in charge, says Sampaoli

Sampaoli was the subject of particular scorn during the Nigeria match when, according to reports in Argentina, he asked Lionel Messi if he wanted Sergio Aguero to come on.

France will play either Uruguay or Portugal in the last eight. "It's not just in this World Cup that they have not been conceding goals".

Copa America Centenario 2016Not prone to showing his emotions, Messi sobbed uncontrollably after blasting his penalty over the bar as Argentina lost a second Copa America final in as many years in a shootout to Chile.

From Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning hat-trick in the opener against Spain to Ricardo Quaresma's screamer against Iran, its been a World Cup to savour so far for Fernando Santos and his squad.

"No one in worldwide football feels the kind of pressure that Argentine players feel and I think we dealt with it pretty well".

Had Manuel Lanzini not ruptured his ACL in the buildup to the World Cup, Banega might not be the man Sampaoli looked to now; in the event, there is an argument that he has suddenly become the most important cog in an unsteady, spluttering machine.

The Barcelona star, at the age of 31, may have played his last World Cup game in a career curiously unfulfilled at worldwide level despite his astonishing achievements with Barcelona and his multiple individual awards.

"I don't think it will be a duel between Ronaldo and Suarez", said Alves at Portugal's training base in Kratovo.

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Michy Batshuayi's celebration of Adnan Januzaj's goal in Belgium's win over England was a delightful moment in what was overall a tiresome game.

This will be Argentina's 15th game under coach Jorge Sampaoli and it could be the first time he has named an unchanged side.

Uruguay's defense might be a bigger problem for Ronaldo and Portugal when the teams meet in Sochi. However, the little detail that makes all the difference is that Uruguay are much better in defending than Portugal.

But, speaking on the eve of that second-round clash with France, Sampaoli said: "I remember that point in time but everything I say to my players is personal and I will not divulge what was said".

The Argentina team will stay in the Ramada hotel ahead of the game.

Unfortunately, Messi showed he is all too human, particularly when things go against him in an Argentina shirt.

Argentina talisman Lionel Messi stunned a journalist in the aftermath of La Albiceleste's win over Nigeria on Tuesday by showing that he was still wearing a good luck charm that the Barcelona star was gifted on matchday one at the World Cup.

But being that England has only won six knockout matches at major tournaments since 1966 - the last knockout win at a major tournament coming at the 2006 World Cup - perhaps, on reflection, going full throttle against Belgium for the chance to play Japan would have been wiser. My hair stands on end just thinking about that moment.

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