Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli denies reports of rebellion ahead of Nigeria clash
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 25/06/18 11:01pm
Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli has denied reports of unrest in his World Cup squad and has backed his side to beat Nigeria in their final Group D match.
The two-time winners have started the tournament poorly and currently sit bottom of their group, having picked up just a single point from their opening two games.
Reports in Argentina claim that senior members of the squad were no longer willing to follow Sampaoli and would instead pick the team to face Nigeria on Tuesday.
However, Sampaoli has rubbished those claims and insists he remains firmly in control of team selection for the must-win game in St Petersburg.
"I can't clarify situations that don't exist. When we finished the last match I took responsibility for the loss," he said.
"I am the coach so the next day I started to think about how we can win tomorrow as a team."
Argentina must beat Nigeria and hope Iceland fail to beat Croatia in order to reach the knockout stage of the completion.
"Tomorrow Argentina will start its World Cup," added Sampaoli. "We have to take on board what happened to us, the point where we are now and we have to be aware tomorrow is the first of five matches that will take us to the final.
"Tomorrow we need to play the first of five finals."
Willy Caballero is expected to lose his place in the starting XI after gifting Croatia their opening goal in a 3-0 win on Thursday, and Sampaoli says he will not hesitate in dropping his experienced players.
"We come to this match in a very delicate position," he said. "In your view it would be more logical for the seasoned, more experienced players to face Nigeria.
"For a lot of people, undoubtedly, this might be true, the historical players, or the position of certain players, or players whose performance is 100 per cent to face this challenge.
"The important thing is the players who play tomorrow, regardless of whether they are historical players or not, will have the obligation to leave their last drop of sweat on the pitch so that Argentina can qualify."