Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano shoots down Jorge Sampaoli rift rumours

Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano shoots down Jorge Sampaoli rift rumours

Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano shoots down Jorge Sampaoli rift rumours

Following Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia which left them battling to avoid elimination from the World Cup at the group stage there were reports that the coach would be sacked and the team selection for the final group game against Nigeria on Tuesday would be decided by the players.

Superstar Lionel Messi simply must lift his beleaguered side over the line against Nigeria in their Group D encounter in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday morning (AEST) - and then hope for Croatia to do them a favour at the same time.

"The relationship with the coach is totally normal", said Mascherano, who at 34, is one of the most experienced and influential players in the squad.

"It is the most critical situation I have experienced, along with the Ecuador game", said Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia on Sunday.

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The Argentine playmaker has enjoyed perhaps the greatest club career possible at FC Barcelona where he is the all-time topscorer and has won every club trophy there is domestically, continentally and globally. "It cost us too much to be where we are for Croatia to come and hit us for three goals and to leave with our arms crossed without anyone putting a foot in".

The football legend also warned manager Jorge Sampaoli that he would not be welcome back home if he didn't change his tactics.

"I'm furious and very upset inside, because anyone who wore that (Argentina) shirt can't see it being trampled like that by a Croatian team that isn't Germany, that isn't Brazil, that isn't Holland or Spain", he said.

"I think there is a total lack of authority on Tapia's part".

Mascherano revealed that at the meeting with Sampaoli the coach had sought the views of his players.

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