Sampaoli planning to use Messi as a false nine against France

Some said Messi is the best player in Barcelona whiles his rival, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world.

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However, before all that gets under way, players have taken to social media with many of them evaluating their nation’s performance in the competition so far. Messi did lead Argentina to the final in 2014, but came up short against Germany.

Cristiano Ronaldo picked up a booking in Portugal’s game against Iran.

It’s a decision, though, which Sampaoli will not take until Saturday, the day of the game, after Argentina reached the knockout rounds with a late win over Nigeria.

Sampaoli was unstinting in his praise of Messi, describing him as “the best player in the world” and a “genius”, but preferred to focus more on the display he expected from his whole team on Saturday.

Sampaoli urged his other players to give Messi as much help as possible.

The Real Madrid star, who has four goals in Russian Federation and looks certain to be crowned world player of the year for a sixth time, will come up against a tight Uruguay defence that did not concede a single goal in the group phase.

In the aftermath, with emotions running high, Messi announced his retirement from worldwide football on the back of three final defeats in three consecutive years.

“I’m sure there might have been mistakes but it’s too soon to analyse that”. “The last World Cup marked me a little”. And then seeing the emotion that goes with it. Just one game stands between putting them on one pitch. This was the third consecutive World Cup in which the defending champion didn’t win its opening match. So we can not give up on that dream.

“It’s hard to comprehend rationally, but we’re not talking rationally here – we’re talking about a country which is a political and economic mess and the only thing it can hold up to the world is its football”. I really think I have achieved so many nice things that I don’t have any more dreams. This team struggled to qualify for the World Cup and of course they got thrashed 6-1 by Spain not long ago – even though Messi was not on the field that night. Following the reemergence of comments made earlier in the year on his World Cup favourites, some are even hailing him a prophet.

Let me finish with a word about Panama, though. I never thought my career was going to be so nice.

Mascherano, who has played at four World Cups, made his debut for Argentina in 2003 when he still hadn’t played professionally for River Plate.

Messi scored a wonderful goal against the Nigerians, but neither he or his teammates have shone in this tournament.

Banega was brought in from the cold to smooth out Argentina’s transitions against Nigeria and promptly produced exactly what Jorge Sampaoli wanted: a beautifully-flighted, nearly casual 40-yard pass to Lionel Messi, who tamed it in breathtaking fashion and scored a magnificent goal.

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Messi vs. Ronaldo on the horizon?

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi takes part in a training session at the team's base camp in Bronnitsy