Mascherano shoots down Sampaoli rift rumours

Messi is not a leader he is no Ronaldo claims Petit

WORLD CUP 2018 Messi is not a leader he is no Ronaldo claims Petit Getty Images

To advance to the knockout stage, the Albiceleste must beat Nigeria and hope Iceland does not defeat Croatia in the other remaining Group D game on Tuesday.

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The Argentina federation were even moved on Saturday to confirm that Sampaoli would continue for the final group game among rumours of a rift between players and coach. "The next day, as a coach, all I thought about was winning", Sampaoli said.

"I'm furious and very upset inside, because anyone who wore that (Argentina) shirt can't see it being trampled like that by a Croatian team that isn't Germany, that isn't Brazil, that isn't Holland or Spain", he said.

For all his heroics with Barcelona at club level, Messi is still often compared unfavourably in his homeland for his inability to recreate Maradona's success for the national team.

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A tough 12-footer limited the damage at 11 to a bogey after he hit into the greenside rough and from there into a bunker. Koepka is the seventh player to win America's national championship of golf in back-to-back years.

As for the 0.4 percent that chose not to watch Alfred Finnbogason cancel out Argentina's opening goal and Messi miss a penalty, 0.3 percent of them watched a re-run of cooking programme "The Great British Bake-Off" and 0.1 percent plumped for a repeat of weight loss show "The Biggest Loser". If he had the ball less than usual then it is because Argentina did not dominate or have that many opportunities.

"The relationship with the coach is totally normal", Mascherano told a press conference at the team's training base on Sunday. But as a collective, where things don't go as we'd like, we all have our own frustrations. Believe it or not, we are World Cup runners-up and at some point we have to show that.

When confectioners in Moscow found out that the Messi would be celebrating his 31st birthday in Russian Federation they made a decision to gift him a life-size chocolate sculpture.

"We know we're up against the wall but beating Croatia before gives us belief", said the midfielder.

Argentina are clinging to the hope their captain bails them out again. "But sometimes you have to cling to something".

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