Jorge Sampaoli: I was instructing Lionel Messi vs. Nigeria, not consulting him

Denmark play France in the final round of group matches. AFP

Denmark play France in the final round of group matches. AFP

"But we didn't expect the complication of the draw, of suffering so much", said Messi, who had been cheered on by compatriot Diego Maradona watching from the stands, along with a massive following of passionate and loud Argentine supporters.

After bringing back the smiles on the faces of thousands of Argentina supporters with his first goal of FIFA World Cup 2018, Lionel Messi decided to make the day all the more special for one Argentinian journalist following the team's victory over Nigeria. Shortly afterwards, the Manchester City striker was introduced for the final ten minutes in Saint Petersburg, replacing defender Nicolás Tagliafico.

Remember Toni Kroos for Germany against Sweden, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar for Brazil against Costa Rica, as well as Luis Suarez for Uruguay against Saudi Arabia, Marcos Rojo for Argentina versus Nigeria and Ronaldo for Portugal against Spain.

Changes made to the team for the last group game were created to play to Messi's strengths, with Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain restored to the starting line-up to feature alongside him in a preferred 4-3-3 formation that sought to banish the ghosts of a miserable showing in their previous Group D game - a horror 3-0 loss to Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod last week where Argentina looked tactically impoverised and Messi was anonymous.

The Argentina captain finally grabbed his first goal at this World Cup with an expert finish from Ever Banega's pinpoint pass in the 2-1 win over Nigeria. It's a team that will play the match with a lot of heart.

The unbalanced nature of the knockout phase sparked debate ahead of Thursday's England-Belgium group match - was it better to win and enter the tougher side of the draw or lose and face potentially easier fixtures down the line?

'So tell her that thank you.' Pantorotto said he felt like he was going to have a stroke before turning to the camera and telling his mother, 'Dear Mamma!

Interestingly, at the Nou Camp, Messi can count on Luis Suarez; it is a different ball game with Argentina, after Gonzalo Higuain has fired blanks in eight games with the Albiceleste.

Argentina's narrow win over Nigeria on Tuesday has set up a tie against France in the first knockout round of the World Cup.

Messi got fewer touches in that match than Willy Caballero in the Argentina goal.

"A coach who has to train Leo knows that everybody surrounding him needs to make him feel secure", Sampaoli said.

Sampaoli said his team would summon more aggression against France, one of the favourites to win the tournament in Russian Federation.

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