World Cup 2018: Argentina look to overcome mutiny and unhappy Messi

first_imgArgentina must win and win handsomely against Nigeria if they are to save themselves from embarrassment at the FIFA World Cup 2018.Lionel Messi-led Argentina languish at the bottom of Group D after a draw and shocking defeat in their first two matches of the tournament.Argentina, the runners-up four years ago in Brazil, have struggled big time and have scored just once so far in two outings. Their only goal came during a stunning 1-1 draw against debutants Iceland last week.Messi has looked under enormous pressure and that has not helped their cause either.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEMedia reports suggest that there could be a rift between the Argentina players and coach Jorge Sampaoli.Midfielder Javier Mascherano denied reports that a rift had opened between the players and coach following their 3-0 World Cup drubbing by Croatia, saying the relationship between the two sides was totally normal.FIXTURES | POINTS TABLE”The relationship with the coach is totally normal,” said Mascherano.”Obviously, if we feel uncomfortable about anything, we let him know….and that goes for the players on the bench as well as the ones on the field,” he said at a press conference in Moscow.Mascherano said he had played under eight national team coaches in his Argentina career and none of them had complained afterwards that the players had picked the team.”There are many myths about the team and about this generation,” he said.Watch: Argentina fans beat up Croatia supporter after World Cup shockadvertisementAt 34, Mascherano is one of the most experienced and influential players in the squad.His teammate Messi will again be under the spotlight and will have another shot at redemption in the crunch game for Argentina on Tuesday.However, Argentina great Pablo Zabaleta is convinced all is not well in the camp and added he was worried to see Messi “unhappy” and “stressed”.Argentina slammed on Twitter after embarrassing defeat to Croatia”His body language was completely the opposite before the Croatia game on Thursday. To see Leo looking so stressed and unhappy at this World Cup was a real worry. He is my friend as well as my former team-mate and I felt really sorry for him. It is very unusual to see him like that, but it was a sign of what was going on in his head,” he wrote in his column for the BBC.”At times like these, there is a huge pressure on him because people expect too much, and for him to do everything for the national team.”I was not surprised he struggled, in what was a disastrous defeat for us. As a player myself, I know that if you go into a game and you don’t really enjoy it then it is very difficult to play well,” Zabaleta wrote.Zabaleta further said it was time for the Argentina players and the support staff to unite and work towards the welfare of the team.”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].”Sampaoli makes a lot of changes to his teams as well as his tactics, and even from the outside I can see how that would affect the atmosphere around the squad.”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 players can listen to the manager – and they should also be able to express themselves about what they do not like from him. If that happens, the players could really turn up on Tuesday. They have to if they really want to go through,” he concluded.The two-time champions got a lifeline after Nigeria defeated Iceland 2-0. However, they must beat the African nation in their final Group D match on Tuesday to stand a chance of reaching the last 16.last_img

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