Crespo: It's logical Argentina depend on Messi, Barcelona do too

Lionel Messi-led Argentina's struggles in Russia come after their pre-tournament preparations were wrecked by controversy and poor form coupled with a reliance on a top-heavy limited squad

But, speaking on the eve of that second-round clash with France, Sampaoli said: "I remember that point in time but everything I say to my players is personal and I will not divulge what was said".

Under-fire coach Jorge Sampaoli also included Ever Banega to add some midfield muscle and spray the passes that Messi could run onto and it did not take long to do the trick.

"It is so clear, everyone can see that it was a clear handball and it is supposed to be a penalty", said Ogundeji.

"It was a simple exchange I had with one of my players, that is all". We are very confident in our capabilities and the preparation we've had.

Of the 23 players in the squad, 22 have been given playing time in Russian Federation so far and it is a measure of how deep their talent pool is that reserve midfielder Milan Badelj was named man-of-the-match against Iceland.

"We train different things for the match. We were quite confident that we would be able to go through and fortunately that came through".

"After the first game [against Iceland] I gave you a good luck amulet that my wife gave me, I don't know if you threw it away or something", the reporter asked following Argentina's win over Nigeria.

"It was due to the situation and what we were playing for".

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After Argentina's match against Iceland, TV reporter Rama Pantarotto gave the Barcelona man the ribbon sent by his mother as a good luck charm to help Argentina qualify.

With just 10 minutes left, Sampaoli had a hard decision to make with the Manchester City star sitting on the bench having also been withdrawn in the second half of the 3-0 defeat to Croatia.

"Leo came up to us and told us to calm down and not be stressed", he said when discussing what his skipper had said in the tunnel. They will try to live off our lack of precision during the game.

"France's great strength is the speed in which they transition".

Despite the need for a late goal to earn a first win of the tournament and keep his team in it, Sampaoli feels they deserved their late fortune. "After that, they get a lot of goals within three or four touches".

Surely, Messi made the reporter's day!

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. In this group, the feeling for the shirt is very strong.

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