I tried everything to get best out of Messi, says Sampaoli

Images PA

Images PA

"I don't think it will be a duel between Ronaldo and Suarez", said Alves at Portugal's training base in Kratovo.

But Maradona led Argentina to its last World Cup title, in 1986, and Messi has a reputation - fairly earned or not - for failing to come through for his national team in the biggest moments.

To honor the Argentinian football star, a group of local street painters drew a six-meter-tall portrait of Messi on a building that stands next to the Ronaldo mural.

Five teams are from Latin America such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and Colombia, and there's only one team from Asia, Japan.

Speaking before the last-16 match in Kazan, he added: "We looked at different options in an important game and had to make a decision".

So you could say things are looking up for Messi and co.as they head to the Russian city of Kazan for their Round of 16 clash against France on Saturday.

"We need to control the match, that's our starting-point, we need to control the game throughout".

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Under pressure to win a first senior trophy with Argentina, Messi opened his account at Russian Federation 2018 with a classy strike in that success. "Our team is much younger, but it's there", Deschamps said.

Speaking about the pitch-side discussion with Messi ahead of facing France, he said the conversation was 'not how it was characterised'. With Senegal going out of the World Cup on the basis of their disciplinary record, that could play a factor going forward in the tournament with some influential players on the horizon of missing future games - should their teams progress - by picking a yellow card.

Messi has spent the tournament trying to hold his squad together, even apparently bypassing coach Jorge Sampaoli to give coaching instructions in the 2-1 win against Nigeria that saved the South Americans from a humiliating group-stage exit.

Argentina have been criticised for their reliance on Messi, although it was Marcos Rojo who scored a late victor against Nigeria Tuesday. At 31, an age when many players begin to decline, the pressure on him is vast.

However, a stunning France comeback propelled by the mesmeric Kylian Mbappe put paid to Maradona's good mood and the realisation that Argentina were going home began to set in.

"We will mark him with the same respect we mark everyone, despite him being a superstar", said Uruguay's Sebastian Coates of Ronaldo. "After the victory against Nigeria we felt more confident, we know we have great players and we have to take advantage of it".

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