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Messi, Argentina scrape into last 16

30 June 2018

Indeed, Argentinian journalist Fernando Niembro has even accused the captain of taking over squad selection duties from Sampaoli.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli says he was informing rather consulting Lionel Messi in an exchange during the team's last World Cup match that some media interpreted as him ceding authority to the celebrated forward.

Argentina have not made it to the Round of 16 and will now play France on June 30, 2018 at the Kazan Arena. Shortly afterwards, the Manchester City striker was introduced for the final ten minutes in Saint Petersburg, replacing defender Nicolás Tagliafico.

As Iceland lost 2-1 to Croatia, Marcos Rojo's 86th-minute volley sent Argentina through as runners-up at Nigeria's expense.

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"Argentina had the zeal to still come back because they knew that yes they could still do it", he said, referring to the period in which a Nigeria penalty converted by Victor Moses levelled the match at 1-1 after Messi had opened the scoring.

But the Barcelona star abolished that myth last night when he gave an inspirational half-time team talk in the tunnel to the Albiceleste players. We played similarly against Lionel Messi and Argentina. Defensively, they are very solid when they recover the ball and attack quickly.

"As I have said before, my players play with heart, they are true rebels". We've managed to do so and have been able to go through.

"I'm sure France has a plan to neutralize Leo and we have a plan to get the best out of him, let's see whose plan works best", he added.

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Substitute Felipe Baloy rewarded them with a consolation goal in the 78th minute, sliding home a free kick that was Panama's first goal in their debut World Cup .

In addition, records belonging to some teams have also been rewritten, among which is The Three Lions of England's six goals against Panama, which is now the most the Englishmen have ever scored in a single World Cup match.

"They have very fast players who can really make a difference".

Sampaoli said his team would summon more aggression against France, one of the favourites to win the tournament in Russian Federation.

His catalogue of misfortunes include being run over by his own vehicle while his misbehaviour, ranging from drink-driving to getting sent off for abusing a referee, may have been a factor behind his omission from the World Cup squad four years ago.

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Messi, Argentina scrape into last 16