Jorge Sampaoli Accused Of Asking Lionel Messi To Make Substitutions

Lionel Messi-led Argentina's struggles in Russia come after their pre-tournament preparations were wrecked by controversy and poor form coupled with a reliance on a top-heavy limited squad

Lionel Messi-led Argentina's struggles in Russia come after their pre-tournament preparations were wrecked by controversy and poor form coupled with a reliance on a top-heavy limited squad

Despite being on cloud nine after Jorge Sampaoli's side qualified for the last 16 of the competition, Messi still had time to complete another round of media duties before heading back to the team's hotel.

Messi's wonderful first half goal inspired Argentina's revival after a disastrous 3-0 defeat in their second game in Russian Federation, with their dramatic 2-1 win in their last Group D match setting up a second round clash against France on Saturday.

Despite the criticism of Argentina, Sampaoli's side moved into a last-16 clash with France Saturday.

With the victory, Argentina finished second in Group D to secure a place in the round of 16, where they will play France in Kazan on June 30.

Coincidentally, the same hotel was chosen by the Argentinian team, who were forced to make reservations there after their French counterparts booked the Mirage Hotel - the other one of the two residences in the city licensed for the World Cup.

"Our first goal for this World Cup was to pass the group stage but that doesn't really satisfy myself or the team".

"He is different with Argentina than with Barcelona", said Umtiti.

At a post-match news conference, the journalist asked Argentina's captain if he kept the good luck charm he gave to him previously.

"We will mark him with the same respect we mark everyone, despite him being a superstar", said Sebastian Coates of Ronaldo.

"How are we supposed to know what to do with football if we don't even know what to do with Lionel Messi".

"If we do not control the play then it will be a physical game which would not suit us".

But its past World Cup exploits and ability to produce one great footballer in every generation gives it a global fan base, perhaps rivalled only by Brazil.

"I'm sure France has a plan to neutralise Leo and we have a plan to get the best out of him, let's see whose plan works best", he added.

With just 10 minutes left, Sampaoli had a hard decision to make with the Manchester City star sitting on the bench having also been withdrawn in the second half of the 3-0 defeat to Croatia.

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