Lionel Messi And Argentina Face Do-Or-Die Clash Against Nigeria

Dean Simpson
June 26, 2018

Javier Mascherano insists fellow Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi is "fine" despite an underwhelming World Cup campaign so far, but did admit he remains frustrated.

Held by Iceland and humiliated by Croatia, Argentina's World Cup could already have been all but over, but Lionel Messi and the rest of Jorge Sampaoli's troubled squad have one final shot at redemption against Nigeria on Tuesday, June 26. Argentina sits last place in the group tied with Iceland in points (one) but with a worse goal differential at negative-two to negative-one.

Argentina will be eliminated unless it beats the African team in St. Petersburg on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT), with speculation that the 31-year-old Messi could retire from the national team if his side loses. "We are looking forward to this game against Argentina because we know that if we win, it could change our lives as football players", Ogu said.

Skipper John Obi Mikel has a small fracture in his left hand but should be able to play with a protective cast, while Rohr is also concerned that his team have had a day less to prepare than Argentina.

The Barcelona man scored the hat-trick which took the Albiceleste to the World Cup but Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr says they will not focus exclusively on him.

"We were confident that we would win our last match against Iceland, that was the mentality we took to the pitch and we won".

While none of the Nigerian silver medallists are in Russian Federation, a large number of Argentina's last set of Olympic men's football champions are: Angel Di Maria, who scored the winning goal in Beijing, played in Argentina's draw with Iceland on day three of what has been a wretched World Cup so far. There are no small or big players in a match. We're here to get a result.

"We know that this will be a hard battle", the German said.

"We don't have any alternative and I am sure this is how it will go". Even with a win over Nigeria, Argentina will potentially have to compete with Iceland on goal differential. I missed out at the last World Cup but today I'm here hoping I get the minutes to play.

The likes of Ever Banega, Angel Di Maria & Gonzalo Higuain will be drafted in from the start.

"Tomorrow Argentina will start its World Cup", added Sampaoli.

Four of the eight games between Nigeria and Argentina have come at World Cup finals - Argentina winning all four contests.

"We come to this match in a very delicate position", he said.

All the Boys of Beijing are over 30 now, and it aches that since then, at three Copa Americas and a World Cup, their best medals have only been silvers.

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