Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli: Not the time to 'evaluate my resignation'

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The last game of Argentina led Lionel Messi was against Nigeria where they registered the win and made it their way to pre- quarter finals.

Argentina, the beaten finalists four years ago, escaped by the skin of their teeth after a ragged group phase and will rely heavily on Messi when their ageing team faces France in Kazan at 9pm Thai time.

Umtiti, is expected to paired Real Madrid's Raphael Varane in the heart of the French defence line, should be handed the huge task of keeping the five-time Ballon dor victor quiet during the encounter.

Mascherano became Argentina's most capped player with 146 appearances during the World Cup group stages, overtaking full back Javier Zanetti earlier this month.

Many jokes poured in on social media regarding Argentina's unavoidable "pleasure" of looking at the winking Ronaldo from their hotel windows.

Iceland, in its first World Cup, nearly made it and will remember how it held Messi and Co to a 1-1 draw.

Lionel Messi's new hotel room could come with a very interesting view for the Argentina captain.

Football heavyweights France, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil are all clustered in one section of the competition, with only Spain among recent winners in the other half.

Hernan Crespo believes it is only logical that Argentina depend on Lionel Messi as Barcelona do likewise.

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"I always forget to cite Germany as one of the candidates [to win in Russia] because I don't like how they play" he boldly stated back in March.

"We have to do everything possible to make sure it goes well for us", said France coach Didier Deschamps.

Entertainment, upsets, personalities, controversy and goals - the World Cup has had it all - and the knockout stage drama hasn't even begun.

If you are a Lionel Messi fan, one of those die-hard ones, who can not hear anything bad about their idol, you will, no doubt, find a way to excuse Messi and his performances in this Fifa World Cup.

However, Jorge Sampaoli's turned their fortunes around with a 2-1 win over Nigeria to send them into the knockout stages with Messi scoring a superb goal inside the opening 15 minutes.

France, who made six changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Denmark last time out, were nearly ahead after nine minutes, but Griezmann's wonderful 25-yard free-kick crashed back off Franco Armani's crossbar. At 31, an age when many players begin to decline, the pressure on him is enormous.

"We have complete faith in our abilities", said Sampaoli.

Argentina need to find a way to take advantage of Messi, one of their greatest ever players, just like Portugal have done with Ronaldo. Just one game stands between putting them on one pitch.

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