Lionel Messi not running the show, says Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli

Lionel Messi not running the show, says Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli

Against a spirited Iceland side, Messi was halted albeit by excellent defending and the goalkeeping heroics of Hannes Halldorsson [the goalkeeper cum film maker] who denied Messi from the spot. If you've watched their three games you know what they've shown so far means you can't include them in the top five or six.

What could be better for the neutral than watching two of history's greatest players going head-to-head on the biggest stage of all?

Edinson Cavani scored twice as Uruguay shattered Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup dream with a 2-1 victory over Portugal here Saturday.

Messi's start was nearly the opposite, missing a penalty against Iceland and being anonymous in a humiliating defeat against Croatia before sparking to life just when his team needed him the most with a superb three-touch control and finish in a crucial fixture against Nigeria. The G.O.A.T argument was heating up but Leo was still lost in the cold of Russian Federation.

Asked about complaints that the 57-year-old had made an obscene gesture at other spectators after Argentina snatched a late win Wednesday, FIFA's World Cup chief executive Colin Smith told reporters that the former Argentine player was a valued part of its Legends programme to promote the game.

Belgium's Roberto Martinez 'delighted' with tougher path to World Cup final
Belgium's 1-0 win sent it into the side of the bracket containing four World Cup winners and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. Supporters had travelled from far and at great expense to see this and they were being short-changed, by all the changes.

Messi vs. Ronaldo on the horizon?

He missed a penalty against a film maker and here he is again, failing to sparkle when his shine was needed. He is such a pure Barcelona product but with Argentina right now Messi's in a mess. "I always give my best at my club".

With the influence of coach Jorge Sampaoli seemingly all but jettisoned after their calamitous 3-0 loss to Croatia, here was Messi stepping up into the unfamiliar role of de facto leader - and revealing a side to his character that the world had hitherto seldom seen. Sometimes, individual brilliance wins games but that is a smaller picture. There has to be paid special attention to those world-class players but we're ready to play against anyone.

Argentina are staying at Ramada, a four-star hotel that comprises of many rooms overlooking a two-storey painting of the five-time Ballon d'Or victor that doesn't hail from Rosario. "My boys, the time is now". My hair stands on end just thinking about that moment. Will Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo meet in the quarterfinals and battle it out for supremacy on the greatest stage of all? But our team is more at ease against good footballing sides, we have players who can play really well on the counterattack and maybe we are not ready yet to control games. Despite Messi's brilliance, Barcelona weren't reluctant in splashing the cash to purchase a certain Neymar so as to ease some burden off Messi's shoulders.

After an eventful evening watching Argentina squeeze past Nigeria in the group stage, Diego Maradona was back in the centre of attention as his beloved Argentina met France in the World Cup's Round of 16 on Saturday.

Additionally, one could also suggest that their chances of glory have even been improved considering the elimination of an opponent that has been responsible for their downfall in each edition of the tournament since that the Germans themselves hosted in 2006. Is it really true that Messi and Dybala can not play together? Sure, the team let in six goals against England and had a style of defending set pieces that would not have looked out of place on a wrestling mat, but just look at the joy created by their goal!

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