Published: Tue, June 26, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

Javier Mascherano denies reports of mutiny in Argentina squad

Javier Mascherano denies reports of mutiny in Argentina squad

"The happiest I saw Lionel Messi when I played alongside him for Argentina was in 2012 - he scored a hat-trick against Brazil in NY, and he played the whole game with freedom and a smile on his face", he wrote in a column for the BBC.

Messi has struggled in Russian Federation thus far, missing a penalty in his side's 1-1 draw with Iceland, before struggling in the stunning 3-0 defeat to Croatia.

The forward also recorded another goal against the United States in their second round clash, to take his strikes to six goals as Ghana cruised to a 2-1 win, thereby becoming the third African team in history to qualify for the tournament's quarter final, behind Cameroon and Senegal.

"I think that match was complicated for Leo, the structure of the game didn't favour him and he didn't get a lot of balls from the midfield", Sampaoli told a pre-match news conference at Krestovsky Stadium after being informed his star man enjoyed fewer touches of the ball than goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

The use of animals to forecast winners at the World Cup is a fairly recent fad.

'They say you f***** me up, ' the midfielder sarcastically jibed at Pavon in a video on Twitter.

Currently, Argentina are at the bottom of the Group, which is not a position they would have expected at the start of the Cup.

For all his heroics with Barcelona at club level, Messi is still often compared unfavourably in his homeland for his inability to recreate Maradona's success for the national team.

"Losing a game of football makes you a loser".

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Messi might need cheering up, having been criticised for his tepid performances at his fourth World Cup with Argentina facing the shocking prospect of exiting the tournament early unless remaining Group D results go their way.

In an interview with Brila FM, the United States of America "94 World Cup star, said that he made a decision to name Musa Eagles" captain when he was coaching Nigeria because the Leicester City star had nice sense of humour.

Regardless of what happens, though, Messi has already said he could quit global football after the tournament and Zabaleta says it's getting "harder" for him to keep turning out for his country. Paul the Octopus became a global sensation when he was correct in 12 out of 14 picks at World Cup 2010, and since then, various animals from tapirs to tigers have been employed to varying success.

I have not spoken to any of the Argentina players but I have heard the reports that the players wanted to get rid of him.

"The situation that has arisen could have happened to any of us. Everybody wants to win and we can not make any gifts even if we like very much this player".

Unlike for the opening draw against Iceland and the loss to Croatia, however, Sampaoli decided against revealing his hand 24 hours before kick-off, claiming he had yet to inform the players of his team but that it is "in his head".

We will have to perform much better than we have done in our first two games and show the right attitude and much more desire.

They must beat Nigeria tonight and hope that Iceland don't also beat Croatia in the final games in Group C.

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