Argentina: Sampaoli expected to be in charge against Nigeria

After setting off on March 12 from Bandar Abbas in southern Iran Francis finally arrived in Moscow on June 25- 105 days later

Group D leaders Croatia have accumulated maximum points from their matches against Nigeria and Argentina, meaning they are already assured of a place in the last-16, although top-spot is not yet guaranteed.

Iceland drew against Argentina in their other Group D match. When his teammates witness his reaction after a setback, they infer he's lost faith the team, in them.

The two-time world champions will hopefully improve going forward if they can find a way to get Lionel Messi and their other forwards more involved, but there's little they can do to solve their problems at the back.

"They ruined our holidays because of that game in June and we were frustrated and dejected".

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

Nigeria take on Argentina knowing that a draw will probably be enough to see them through, unless Iceland heavily beat Croatia in Rostov.

Criticism of Lionel Messi has become harsh, but how much of it is warranted, and what's off base?

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Yet Sampaoli remains convinced his beleagured side can salvage something from what has been a dismal World Cup campaign so far. When I played in the Argentina team with him, he was always the main player and the main man. "But, we have to take care because we have some players on yellow cards, so I will change the line-up".

"I think that match was complicated for Leo, the structure of the game did not favor him", Sampaoli told reporters during a pre-match press conference in Saint Petersburg.

Former World Cup victor Diego Maradona has requested a meeting with the Argentina squad in a bid to inspire the out of form players.

Messi turned 31 two days before the match, and there's strong speculation he'll retire from the national team if Argentina loses. Image: PA Maradona also refers to Messi's 2014 World Cup outing where he was named player of the tournament.

It is at global level where his career has never quite his club exploits and why a potential exit tonight would haunt him forever.

In their hour of need, Argentina need Messi's best once more.

"As for certain situations, I can't clarify things that are untrue and things that don't exist".

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