Sampaoli Denies Media Interpretations of Him Consulting Messi

Sampaoli Denies Media Interpretations of Him Consulting MessiSampaoli Denies Media Interpretations of Him Consulting Messi

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli says he was informing rather than consulting Lionel Messi in an exchange during the team’s last group match in the Russia World Cup that some media interpreted as him ceding authority to the celebrated forward.

Much has been made of the footage of the discussion before Sampaoli brought on striker Sergio Aguero as a substitute during the 2-1 win over Nigeria that secured Argentina’s passage to the last 16.

The 58-year-old coach said the incident had been misinterpreted, Reuters reported.

“I remember that point in time but everything I say to my players is personal and I will not divulge what was said,” he said.

“But it’s not how you characterized it, we had several options in attack and I was just communicating to him that we’d be using one of the strategies that we’d rehearsed.”

Sampaoli was unstinting in his praise of Messi, describing him as “the best player in the world” and a “genius”, but preferred to focus more on the display he expected from his whole team on the knockout stage match against France.

“I dream of an Argentina that plays with passion but also dominates with the football,” he added.

“If we can’t control the ball, it could become a physical match, and that won’t suit us at all. We need to control the match, that’s our starting-point; we need to control the game throughout.”

Sampaoli came under huge fire after Argentina drew 1-1 with Iceland in the first match in Russia and was thrashed 3-0 in second game by Croatia, all amid reports of unrest in the camp.

After spending one year in Spain and leading Sevilla to fourth spot in La Liga, thus allowing the team to play the Champions League football next season, Sampaoli left the club in 2017 to coach the Argentina national team.


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