Pressure on Messi after Ronaldo's match-winning goal vs Morocco

Virginia Santiago
June 22, 2018

Argentina, who sit joint-second in Group D will close their group stage against Nigeria after facing off with Croatia. If Argentina is better, they should congratulate them.

"We are all with him, he knows that he can count on the support of all of us more than ever", said Argentina striker Paulo Dybala of Messi.

Beyond that Argentina looked largely clueless, and increasingly frustrated by Croatia.

With all the pre-match attention on Messi it was his Real Madrid counterpart Luka Modric who provided the game's true flashes of genius.

Some Argentine players looked out of their depth, and regardless of where they finish in Group D, this is one of the worst Argentina sides we've seen at the World Cup. "He's the best player in the world, but clearly it's impossible that a single player completely changes the situation of a match".

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France edged Peru 1-0 on Thursday in their second World Cup Group C game on Kylian Mbappe's first-half goal. If Messi didn't do it for Argentina, then they wouldn't be in Russian Federation.

And Kempes - who won the World Cup in 1978 - claims a lack of variety from Sampaoli's side has not helped Messi in his bid to reach the level of Maradona on the worldwide stage.

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AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic was sent home from Russian Federation for reportedly refusing to come on as a substitute, though coach Zlatko Dalic said the AC Milan man had a back injury.

Eriksen signaled his enduring importance to Denmark when he put his team in front just seven minutes into the game.

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"Messi was at a standstill, he was off the pace, depressed", Latorre said. And if such opportunities should arise, Sampaoli said it's imperative for Argentina to find the back of the net.

Keane's fellow panelist Ian Wright also backed Ronaldo in his long-running battle with Messi, as he took his goal tally at Russian Federation 2018 to four after his victor against Morocco on Wednesday.

It was under Pep Guardiola that Barcelona began playing this way, getting rid of the likes of Samual Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to enable Messi to roam more centrally and participate more.

Croatia stymied Messi for 90 minutes, not allowing even one shot.

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