2018 Russia World up: ‘We suffer when Messi doesn’t feel secure’
11:53 AM, June 27, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:17 PM, June 27, 2018

‘We suffer when Messi doesn’t feel secure’

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli had words of praise for all his players but especially for his captain and star man Lionel Messi after their victory against Nigeria which ensured that the Albiceleste avoided an embarrassing Group Stage exit.

The coach was relieved after Argentina suffered so much and commented that the match against Croatia did not go according to plan as the team could not bring Messi into the game. The Argentine playmaker has the tendency to ease his way into the game with lots of touches on the ball and his performance was jittery when he did not see much of the ball against Croatia. With Messi seeing less action, chances were not created.

"A coach who has to train Leo knows everybody surrounding him needs to make him feel secure, and if we are able to create passes to Leo we can create chances. Otherwise we suffer.

"We have the best player in the world and the other players need to benefit from that. That's why I said the match against Croatia was our problem, not his problem."

Sampaoli confessed that Messi’s gesture of coming to hug him made him proud. "When Leo came and hugged me it made me very proud and happy, because he knows I am passionate every single day," Sampaoli said.

"I have had the opportunity to travel with him and share moments with him. He knows me well, and knows we have this dream to come to Russia and do something important for Argentina.

Sampaoli had tried to ensure that Messi gets to have more say in the match. Introduction of a midfielder like Banega helped Argentina build play through midfield with a lot more fluency than in previous matches.

"His position in the team - playing three midfielders and Leo on the right trying to create more passes on the inside to get to the goal on the outside.

He praised Ever Banega, who was instrumental in the first half and then battled through in the second.

"I was pleased with Ever [Banega], Enzo [Perez], Javi [Mascherano] and Leo, they have stopped our opponents creating any transitions.

"We had planned and I think the first half went well. We were better than Nigeria," Sampaoli added. "We were also able to move forward and have many touches in the midfield.

"After the penalty we got nervous and were worried about not going through, but we were very happy at the end.

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