Lionel Messi Birthday: Twitterati wishes the Argentine skipper as he turns 31

Argentina forward Lionel Messi

Media chain TYC fuelled speculation on Friday morning that the players had held a crisis meeting and decided that they didn't want the former Sevilla coach in charge for the final group match against Nigeria, with Jorge Burruchaga preferred.

"And the manager Sampaoli has made so many mistakes since the start of the tournament, in choosing his team, making substitutions, everything". Many of them were dressed in Croatia's red and white shirts and waving the nation's flag. They were bad against a team that pressed them and bad against a team that sat back.

"People say Messi or Ronaldo, but that game convinced me once and for all that Ronaldo-Messi debate is a 50/50 split, and I'm siding with Ronaldo".

World Cup victor Mario Kempes' faith in Argentina's chances of qualifying for the round of 16 has all but gone after their crushing defeat to Croatia.

Spain full-back Jordi Alba insisted he could not understand the criticism of Argentina star and Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi at the World Cup.

Reports indicate that coach Sampaoli could be kicked out of the team.

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A hard-working Croatia side took the lead when Rebic spectacularly hooked the ball over his shoulder into the roof of the net in the 53rd minute after being teed up by a botched clearance from hapless goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

"We don't realise that Messi is very good but I clarify that he is very good because he is accompanied by extraordinary footballers", he said.

Others connected to Argentine football have also spoken out after Thursday's debacle. "Never before. There was a lack of spirit and it's very unusual to see".

Aside from the loss to Croatia and an opening-game draw against Iceland, Argentina lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in extra time.

Mario Kempes, a 1978 World Cup victor with Argentina and analyst for ESPN, tweeted: "The spectacle was shameful and the farewell is increasingly closer!"

"Messi, who keeps winning for Barcelona, who continues to deliver triumph after triumph for Barcelona, has given us nothing but defeats and sadness", said Miguel Angel Gutierrez, a 50-year-old Argentina supporter in Buenos Aires.

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