Published: Tue, June 26, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Argentina face five finals, insists defiant coach Sampaoli

Argentina face five finals, insists defiant coach Sampaoli

Victory against the Africans, who Argentina have beaten in all 4 previous World Cup meetings, will secure qualification for the last 16 as long as Iceland don't shock already-qualified Croatia.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is determined Messi doesn't star again, even though unashamedly a fan of the five-time world player of the year. He's scored against Argentina before and seems to be in a confident mood.

Nigeria's fate is under their own control, and they may feel they only need a point to progress. It took them the stoppage time to find a breakthrough via Coutinho, before Neymar scored in the 7th minute of added time - before falling onto the turf and letting out tears, perhaps of frustration.

Ten summers ago, Argentina's best young players took on their Nigerian equivalents for one of the greatest prizes in sport.

"In the first two games we committed two stupid penalties, which more experienced players would not make".

"Everybody loves him. [But] in football there is no mercy, there is no pity, " said the 64-year-old Rohr, an uncompromising defender who played most of his career with French side Bordeaux.

Nigeria, who have three points after playing two group-stage matches, are second in Group D, while two-time champions Argentina are bottom of the table and need to win their final group-stage match to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stage.

A defeat means that the world's acclaimed best player, Lionel Messi, will not win the one trophy remaining to complete his crown-laden chest.

Thankfully for Messi and his team-mates, that is precisely what tends to happen when Argentina face Nigeria. A draw may also be enough for Nigeria depending on the outcome of Iceland's match against Croatia. "So he deserved to come back in the national team like a starting player". Otamendi is no stranger to offensive involvement as he scored 4 goals and had 10 shots on goal for Manchester City in the Premier League this past club season.

Sampaoli, it should be noted, is the ninth different head coach since Argentina won their first Olympic gold in 2004; so no record of smooth continuity there for the Messi generation, the braves of Beijing. That hasn't worked out for them so far, but without a change in manager, their style is unlikely to shift for what could be their final match in Russian Federation. According to our numbers, Denmark has an implied goal total of 1.0 goal, the third-lowest on the slate.

Argentina suffered a 3-0 loss against Croatia on June 21.

ALSO READ: FIFA 2018 Points Table Messi's Argentina will be eliminated with a defeat or a tie.

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