by Tim Stannard
Reports of Argentina mutiny against Sampaoli
Eventually Lionel Messi will absorb the concept that playing international football is largely a pain in the bottom, unless you happen to be Cristiano Ronaldo and deliver for both club and country. Just kidding.
This year, the Argentinean talisman is facing an embarrassing early exit from the World Cup after Thursday’s disastrous crushing by Croatia. Last summer, there was no major tournament and Messi got married. That was probably a pleasant experience. The three years before that – consecutive painful defeats in finals.
But rather than the Argentinean footballers bearing the brunt of the Albiceleste ire, the man in the middle is Jorge Sampaoli who was seconds away from ripping off his t-shirt and screaming at the heavens in the latter stages of the defeat. Kun Aguero huffed out of a post-match chat after hearing – incorrectly, to be fair – that his manager was blaming the team for the loss.
That strop signals a huge apparent disconnect between the squad and manager with some reports saying that the footballers do not want Sampaoli on the bench for the final Nigeria clash but are instead calling for Jorge Burruchaga to take over, a member of the 1986 World Cup-winning squad. Whether that story is true or not, a dramatic change is not expected over the next few days before Tuesday’s decider.
An awful lot hinges on the result of the Iceland v Nigeria clash taking place later on Friday with Argentina rooting for a win for the African side to give the Albiceleste the best chance of progressing.
Remember to head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page for every half-time to hear the hottest takes in 360-degree vibro-vision from a room that is now beginning to smell like a frat house with no windows.
Bra-exit avoided by Tite's men
Well, that was close. For a good ninety minutes it looked as if Brazil was about to pull an Argentina in terms of big game bungles, especially when a Neymar penalty flop was ruled out by a VARy timely intervention. But a late, late show by the Brazilians and two goals from Philippe Coutinho and Neymar brought about a nervy win.
Mexico looks for Korea move into last 16
In this multi-tasking World Cup world, Friday will also see the media sifting through the pre-match comments of those participating in Saturday’s bunch of encounters. And that includes two huuuuuuuge clashes for Mexico and Germany – with all due respect to Belgium, a side that can be expected to ease past Tunisia and into the Last 16 in the day’s first game.
Mexico is taking on South Korea and ever since the victory against Germany, the trick has been to both dampen down expectations of an exuberant nation as well as keep up the confidence levels.
The German camp has had a very different vibe with an awful lot of Teutonic soul-searching after the Mexico defeat, which might well be very bad news for the Swedes who could be facing the Mannschaft bouncing back and at full throttle.
Elsewhere, the Egyptians are still in de-Nile about the side’s early World Cup exit and are set to lodge an official complaint to FIFA about the refereeing by Enrique Caceres in the 3-1 defeat to Russia that sealed the country’s exit.
Manchester United has confirmed the transfer of Brazilian midfielder, Fred, for upwards of $70 million. Across England’s north-west and Liverpool has been linked with yet another goalkeeper to avoid more Karius catastrophes next season. Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha is the latest name.
Elsewhere, Alvaro is set for yet another move and Borussia Dortmund could well be the club that is in the hunt for the out-of-sorts Chelsea striker. Finally, SportsBurst has checked in with MLS to see if Wayne Rooney has moved to DC United yet…nope, just crickets in that direction.
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