Monday, 16 July, 2018

Diego Maradona 'requests meeting with Argentina players before final group game'

Argentina were so poor that I didn't want Messi's shirt – Rebic Diego Maradona 'requests meeting with Argentina players before final group game'
Betsy Taylor | 26 June, 2018, 17:01

We expect Argentina to continue misfiring against Nigeria as it has done so far at World Cup 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and 2010 winners Spain progressed from Group B in dramatic fashion on Monday, joining host nation Russian Federation and Uruguay in the next round but technology grabbed centre stage.

He celebrated his birthday along with his teammates who are in Russian Federation.

In Saransk, Ronaldo was at the heart of a series of VAR incidents.

I have not spoken to any of the Argentina players but I have heard the reports that the players wanted to get rid of him.

Sampaoli said he had been made to feel like a "criminal" by critics, but that there was no mutiny within the squad and he was still a coach "with enthusiasm and a clear idea what I want to achieve".

With the match heavily poised in the second half, Zlatko Dalic's men broke the deadlock after a scuffed clearance from Willy Caballero gifted the ball to Rebic, who ruthlessly volleyed past the hapless goalkeeper. "An elbow is a red card in the rules. So we can not give up on that dream".

Portugal will face two-time winners Uruguay in Sochi on Saturday.

In response to the rumours about his position, Sampaoli said: "The week went from low to high, and with respect to what was said, I can not clarify things that did not exist".

Coach Jorge Sampaoli was supposed to be the antidote to Argentina's 'Pass to Messi' problem.


On the other side of the coin, Argentina look like a broken side.

Messi, who turned 31 on Sunday, is yet to score or provide an assist at the showpiece event, while he had a penalty saved during a 1-1 draw with Iceland. If Iceland win, it will be time to get the calculators out.

Despite indulging in cake and wearing a smile again, Messi will undoubtedly be hurting inside after his side's underwhelming start to the tournament in Russian Federation.

The Manchester City striker, who is now set to be axed for their final group game against Nigeria, put his sorrows aside as he joined the squad and celebrated Messi's special day. "Tomorrow will be the first final", said the defiant coach on the eve of the game in Saint Petersburg.

With players like Sergio Agüero, Ángel Di María, Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala, Cristian Pavón, Maximiliano Meza and Ever Banega, Argentina should be terrorizing opponents on the attack.

But now is the time for unity and I think they all need to sit down together - players and manager - because this kind of situation is normal in football in tough moments after bad results.

The pressure is on Argentina as they take on Nigeria in Group D on Tuesday night.

Both Group C games can be seen Tuesday at 9am et/6am pt, Denmark and France will be broadcast across the TSN Network while Australia and Peru can be seen on TSN2.

'They say you f***** me up, ' the midfielder sarcastically jibed at Pavon in a video on Twitter. Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting "SPORTS" to 22840.

The Barcelona star, however, has failed to showcase his genius in Russian Federation so far, as Iceland and Croatia have managed to keep him sedated.

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