Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

'Best in the world' Messi treated unfairly, says Sampaoli

The ace Barcelona striker was the talk of the town when he missed a penalty awarded to Argentina in their group game against debutants Iceland, thereby settling for a disappointing 1-1 draw.

Dalic clarified: "I didn't say that Argentina was the easiest opponent".

"Argentina depends a lot on Messi, although they are a great team in other positions", he told reporters, via Goal. We are getting a good price on the draw and it is a fair result so it is the wager which I am going to suggest for this game.

Under pressure himself after an underwhelming year in charge of Argentina despite an extraordinary array of individual talent at his disposal, Sampaoli was bombarded with questions about his controversial use of three central defenders.

"When he has two or three opponents trying to block him, somewhere on the pitch a teammate is free, as happened against Iceland".

"We need to move on to the next phase, that's what we came here for", he said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

"The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world".

However, there would be no room for Croatia to relax just yet as they aim to seal their passage into the next round, knowing all too well what three points against Argentina would mean to those hopes.

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic, left, walks past Croatia's Luka Modric, right, kicking a ball during official training on the eve of the group D match between Croatia and Argentina in the Nizhny Novgorod stadium in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Wednesday, June 20, 2018.

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They did adjust very well; it's a pity they gave away a penalty. The spy had approached the training ground posing as a tourist. But I do not want to believe it affects us too much.

Croatia have lost all four of their World Cup meetings with South American sides, once in each of the four tournaments they've played in.

While much has been made of Argentina's over-dependence on their out-and-out star, who turns 31 this weekend and may well be at his last World Cup, Sampaoli said fortunately the obsession with Messi also destabilised others. The issue with Croatia will be defending against the likes of Messi and Aguero.

"They are different. Their contexts are different", he said.

The pressure is on Argentina - this is a tough game.

Argentina face Croatia at 7pm on Thursday.

"He's a national hero, as Diego was".

"It's going to be hard".

Rakitic plays for Barcelona together with Argentina's Lionel Messi, who failed to convert a penalty against Iceland.

A likely change in tactics and formation could help Argentina penetrate better against Croatia, who certainly have some defensive leaks that Lionel Messi & co. could exploit.

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