Let's mind our own business, say Croatia ahead of Iceland game

Messi is running out of time to save Argentina's World Cup Article Image 0

Messi is running out of time to save Argentina's World Cup Article Image 0

For most football fans, the knockout stage of a World Cup without Messi and Argentina is nearly unthinkable.

Reports of recriminations in the aftermath of the Croatia loss, with some senior players understood to be unhappy over Sampaoli's methods, have dominated the build-up, but the former Chile and Sevilla boss was in defiant form at his pre-match news conference.

Messi, during Argentina's opening game against Iceland, missed an opportunity to put his side 2-1 up.

Albiceleste fans will likely not be worrying about quarter-final opponents with their team in such a dire position, but should they reach that stage of the competition they will play either the Group A victor (Russia or Uruguay) or the Group B runner-up (Portugal or Spain).

The match will be the fifth meeting between Argentina and Nigeria at the World Cup, and Argentina has won the last four. They were on the brink of missing out on the finals for the first time since 1970 before Messi's hat-trick against Ecuador dragged them over the line. "In the rules it doesn't say if it is (Lionel) Messi or Ronaldo".

Lionel Messi will respond to Argentina's hour of need in the World Cup against Nigeria on Tuesday, according to head coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Former Argentina worldwide Pablo Zabaleta is concerned by how "stressed and unhappy" Lionel Messi has appeared at the 2018 World Cup.

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"We know we're up against the wall but beating Croatia before gives us belief", said the midfielder.

Croatia tops the group with six points while the Heimir Hallgrimsson-coached Iceland have just a single point in their kitty and lie at the third spot. "We have to be united, to express our opinions, and do everything possible so the team goes into the game in the best position".

"Like it our not, we are the runners-up from the World Cup and we have to show it".

"It's been a very hard week after that defeat, which was painful for us", he said. "They see him winning trophies every season with Barcelona - so they expect him to do exactly the same in the national team".

In contrast to Argentina, Croatia have been one of the most impressive teams in Russian Federation. If Iceland win, it will be time to get the calculators out.

By his own high standards, Messi has been way below his usual level in Argentina's first two matches.

"That will be our main goal, to make it Messi's last World Cup game", Nigeria defender Bryan Idowu said.

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