Messi, Ronaldo gear up for World Cup knockout phase

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Jorge Sampaoli's side may have disappointed, but they showed more in one game than France in three, scoring only two goals in open play. Indeed, Argentinian journalist Fernando Niembro has even accused the captain of taking over squad selection duties from Sampaoli.

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. Shortly afterwards, the Manchester City striker was introduced for the final ten minutes in Saint Petersburg, replacing defender Nicolás Tagliafico.

After playing the most soporific game of the World Cup so far, France will feature in a seismic last-16 clash of former champions with a resurgent Argentina on Saturday, and they will have to drastically improve if they are to stop Lionel Messi.

Argentina faced extremely long odds of making it through to the knockout round, but they found a way, beating Nigeria 2-1 yesterday, with the game victor coming from Rojo via a wonderful looking right-footed finish in the 87′.

We wish him all the best for the rest of the World Cup.

As the drama unfolded in St Petersburg, Iceland was simultaneously fighting with all its Nordic might for a win over the Croats in Rostov-on-Don that could have sent them through. "But it's not how you characterised it, we had several options in attack and I was just communicating to him that we'd be using one of the strategies that we'd rehearsed".


If true, it doesn't say much for Sampaoli's confidence in his own abilities at this moment in time.

Further up the field, Luka Modric was incredible for Croatia, most notably in their emphatic 3-0 win over Argentina.

Messi: Yes. So tell her that thank you, that... "We know how he is as a player". He's a shining light for us all, and we have to do our very best to all try to be at his level.

The Barcelona star will come face-to-face with club team-mates Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele and is aware of the improvement needed to make the last eight.

"What is important is the whole team defends together, not just as individuals or the midfield player in his area".

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