Every game is a final from here on in, insists Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli

Sport360 staff 22:52 25/06/2018
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Under pressure Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli admits his side face a “momentous” must-win clash with Nigeria.

Argentina know only a victory will do if they are to avoid a humiliating exit from the group stages.

They currently lie bottom of Group D with a solitary point to their name following a draw with Iceland and the embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Croatia.

Yet Sampaoli remains convinced his beleagured side can salvage something from what has been a dismal World Cup campaign so far.

“For us it’s a momentous game, I think both teams are going to do everything possible to qualify, that makes the match very attractive,” he said at his pre-match press conference.

“We have to make our goal of five games to reach the final. Tomorrow will be the first final.

“We don’t have any alternative and I am sure this is how it will go. Tomorrow, I am sure that they will see the best version of Argentina at this World Cup.

“Beyond the fact that I have the team in my head, I do not want to confirm it because I have not yet communicated it to the players.”

Captain Lionel Messi, who turned 31 on Sunday, has cut a miserable figure so far, missing a penalty against Iceland and making no impact against the Croats.

Sampaoli admitted: “I think the structure of the game with Croatia did not favour Messi. We will try to improve.

“This game has to be played with the heart, we have to do everything possible so that Argentina is in the next phase.”

Nigeria, second in the group with three points, need to win to guarantee their progress but could also go through with a draw if Iceland do not beat Croatia.

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