Argentina ready to test France World Cup credentials

Argentina ready to test France World Cup credentials”

It would probably start with "Messi doesn't have the right team and the coach doesn't know how to utilise Messi properly", before going on to, "One man alone can not do everything, football is a team sport", and end it with "It isn't Mess's fault, Argentina were just not good enough for him".

Umtiti, who is expected to start dicey encounter after missing out of Les Bleus last group fixture against Denmark, revealed that stopping the Argentina's star is no easy task. Lionel Messi's sublime goal against Nigeria, with the "thigh of God" control, Brazilian Philippe Coutinho's strike against Switzerland and Luka Modric's devastating drill into the bottom corner in Croatia's 3-0 upset of Argentina.

Instead, we saw another timid Mess performance, where he was there some of the time, but went missing way too often.

The game against France is a showdown between Messi and Antoine Griezmann, who at the start of the summer looked destined to join the Argentine at Barca but eventually opted to prolong his stay at their Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid.

Had he done that, then Messi would have gone into another realm, the kind that fantasy is made of. Some said Messi is the best player in Barcelona whiles his rival, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world.

Lionel Messi can not be expected to recreate his Barcelona performances in a very different set-up with Argentina, according to club team-mate Samuel Umtiti.

"Yes, of course, it can be", he told Marca when asked if it could still be Messi's tournament.

Click through the gallery above to see our best XI from the group stage at the 2018 World Cup.

The first phase in Russian Federation featured just one goalless draw and already a record number of penalties, with the video assistant referee (VAR) often in the spotlight. Messi took Argentina to the 2014 World Cup final but instead of building on that, the Albiceleste have remained a work in progress.

A blockbuster Saturday is in store at the World Cup with Argentina taking on France before Portugal face Uruguay. Santos will be demanding more from his players after they struggled to beat Morocco and only managed to draw with Iran in their last two games.

There is no better drama in football than late drama - 26 goals were scored after the 80th minute, of which 13, 50 percent, have been winners or equalisers.

16 - No player has had more shots at goal than Neymar's tally of 16, with the world's most expensive player additionally pipping Ronaldo with eight shots on target compared to the Portugal captain's total of seven. Argentina fell behind before fighting back to take a 2-1 lead early in the second the delight of their most famous fan.

Only a championship would allow Messi to fully escape Maradona's shadow.

While Messi produced only one, albeit sublime moment during the first three games, Ronaldo has inserted himself into the Golden Boot race with four goals on his tally heading into the knockout stage.

Entertainment, upsets, personalities, controversy and goals - the World Cup has had it all - and the knockout stage drama hasn't even begun. Is it really true that Messi and Dybala can not play together?

"The players who helped write the history of football have a part to play", Smith said.

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