Dont blame Messi, pleads Argentina boss Sampaoli


Messi's struggles are in stark contrast to his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored four goals in his first two matches for Portugal - but Sampaoli feels Argentina's struggles have limited the impact of his star player.

Argentina face the prospect of an embarrassing first-round exit in Russian Federation after suffering a 3-0 loss to the Croatians in Nizhny Novgorod, which left them with one point from two games.

With Argentina looking dysfunctional and under-performing throughout the qualifiers, Messi's dream of matching Maradona in Russian Federation always looked a tall order. A Nigerian win will give the team three total points, but Argentina will play Nigeria on June 26th and have a chance to vault into second in the group.

Though Sampaoli blamed himself, a TyC Sports presenter told Aguero that his manager had said his players failed to adapt to his tactics, thereby shifting the blame onto them. "I am extremely hurt by this defeat, but I probably didn't understand the match the way I should have".

France, who edged past Australia 2-1 courtesy of an Antoine Griezmann penalty and an own goal in their Group C opener, vowed to ramp up the intensity against Peru in Yekaterinburg. "We know what direction we need to go in".

Australia's equalizer in the 38th minute came 31 minutes after Denmark opened the scoring with a gorgeous goal by Christian Eriksen. "We should be focused on what awaits. We'll definitely focus on them as whole and as a collective".

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There are two scenarios in which Argentina can avoid embarrassment and advance to the knockout stage.

Former England captain David Beckham has tipped England to play Argentina in the World Cup final after a positive start against Tunisia.

"I still think we can improve in all aspects".

" It is not easy to play against them, but our players have to enjoy the match".

The 30-year-old's dream of winning the World Cup now look remote. We have a young coach, and players with us who are our future and we have to play football.

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