Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo: 'Argentina match will be a war'
26 June, 2018, 18:07
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli denied reports of divisions between players and management in his squad and said they would finally get their World Cup campaign properly underway in their crucial Group D match against Nigeria on Tuesday.
The third round of World Cup group matches continues today, with one of the top matches being Nigeria versus Argentina.
With just a point from its two games, Argentina is in dire need for its talisman to fire against its final group stage opponent Nigeria and ensure a longer stay in the quadrennial event.
Argentina go into the game bottom of the standings and knowing they have to win to have any hope of advancing to the knockout rounds.
The team, with only seven wins from its 17 matches, needed a victory while playing away from home against Ecuador in its last qualifying game.
Nigeria have lost in all four of their previous World Cup meetings with Argentina, with all of those defeats by single-goal margins.
Against Iceland, Argentina became predictable for centring their tactics so overwhelmingly on Messi; against Croatia, Messi seemed bypassed much of time.
The 31-year-old has so far struggled to make an impact, missing a penalty in the 1-1 draw with Iceland and being marked out of the game in the emphatic 3-0 defeat by Croatia.
There's likely to be a great deal of change should Argentina fail to beat Nigeria and crash out at the group stage.
He revealed that the team was not anxious so much about the weather because most of the players live in Europe and are used to such conditions. "However, I'm sure that tomorrow will be one of the five matches that will lead us to victory", Sampaoli told journalists.
Nigeria's most recent encounter with Argentina came in November 2017, with the Super Eagles winning 4-2 in Krasnodar, thanks in part to a brace from Alex Iwobi. We're here to get a result. "He will be ready but we will plead with Federation Internationale de Football Association to allow him to play with a cast". This team lack an identity, style of play and any real sense of the game plan.
Reports claim Lionel Messi and Co demanded the head of the former Chile boss - and wanted the Argentine FA to replace him with general manager and 1986 World Cup victor Jorge Barruchaga.
Nigeria, while now ahead of Argentina on points, still faces a hard challenge ahead of them. "It was about more than just spirit and we know didn't look good".
"We hope this is Messi's last game (at the World Cup) because as much as we enjoy him as a player, it's our only chance to go through", explained Idowu.
The trio of Kelechi Iheanacho, Tyronne Ebuehi and Ahmed Musa returned to the starting lineup for that match, while Odion Ighalo, Shehu Abdullahi and Alex Iwobi were dropped.
"I still want more".
"Argentina has to play with its heart and this is what I am trying to convey".
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Argentina players rallied together on Sunday, June, 24, to celebrate their talisman Lionel Messi's 31st birthday. We are professionals and we have to defend the colours of Nigeria . "Everybody wants to win".
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