Messi making the decisions for Argentina? I’m in charge, says Sampaoli

Elena Summers
June 30, 2018

It would be an interesting thing to track considering Ronaldo's Portugal and Messi's Argentina could meet in the quarters if they get past France and Uruguay respectively.

After sneaking through to the last 16 courtesy of a dramatic late victor from Marcos Rojo against Nigeria, Jorge Sampaoli's side will play Group C winners France at the Kazan Arena on Saturday. It also happens with Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal and Real Madrid.

France forward Antoine Griezmann (left) will go head to head with Argentina's Lionel Messi in the World Cup last 16.

Many jokes poured in on social media regarding Argentina's unavoidable "pleasure" of looking at the winking Ronaldo from their hotel windows.

The highlight of its draw with mighty Argentina was Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson stonewalling Lionel Messi on a penalty kick.

Speaking before the last-16 match in Kazan, he added: "We looked at different options in an important game and had to make a decision". Uruguay's Diego Godin is the other centre-back selected for the team, having led a Uruguayan defence that did not concede a single strike in the group stage. He always wants to win games and titles. "Our team is much younger, but it's there", Deschamps said.

However, Sampaoli said the conversation was "not how it was characterised". At 31, an age when many players begin to decline, the pressure on him is huge.

Instead, South Korea got two goals late, including Son Heung-min's goal late in stoppage time that put an exclamation point on one of the more startling results in recent World Cup memory.

Messi scored the opener as Argentina progressed out of the group stages with their victory over the Super Eagles, with Marcus Rojo scoring the decisive goal after Victor Moses levelled the scoreline early in the second half.

Argentina endured a hard group stage at the World Cup, scraping through by the skin of their teeth thanks to an 86th-minute Marcos Rojo goal in a 2-1 win over Nigeria.

Burns said: "What we saw was Messi nearly morphing into the kind of ideal Argentine in the sense of the Maradona who leads his men on the pitch".

Arguments over whether Messi or his contemporary rival Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player the game has ever seen will inevitably now bring up his lack of success at a national team level, particularly since Ronaldo won the European Championship with Portugal two years ago. Now it must find a way to stifle France, which has a greater variety of attacking talent. "Obviously what we want to avoid is the drawing of lots", said Colin Smith, FIFA's chief competitions and events officer.

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