Another World Cup rollercoaster for Messi

Messi Antonella Rocuzzo

Rostov: Croatia secured first place in Group D on Tuesday after a hard-fought 2-1 win over gallant Iceland in Rostov, setting up a last-16 tie with Denmark.

But Marcos Rojo had only one method in mind when it came to celebrating his dramatic intervention in Argentina's late win against Nigeria at the World Cup.

Despite the criticism of Argentina, Sampaoli's side have moved into a last-16 clash with France on Saturday.

After bringing back the smiles on the faces of thousands of Argentina supporters with his first goal of FIFA World Cup 2018, Lionel Messi decided to make the day all the more special for one Argentinian journalist following the team's victory over Nigeria.

When greeted by reporters after the win, one man ask if the Argentine has the charm he had given him from his mother and the five time Ballon d'Or victor shocked everyone when he pulled down his sock.

The Barcelona star will come face-to-face with club team-mates Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele and is aware of the improvement needed to make the last eight.

Messi, 31, has come under fire for his performances in Russian Federation, where his classy opener against Nigeria helped Jorge Sampaoli's men into the last 16. "I'm very proud of the boys, they've done really well".

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"I have teammates I know very well at the back and up front".

Sampaoli had been fiercely criticised after a 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Thursday left Argentina on the brink of an embarrassing early exit.

A total of 23 penalties were awarded after 41 games, which more than the previous record of 18 from the 1990, 1998 and 2002 editions; but 17 have been converted and five either missed or saved.

Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel is yet to get over the team's ouster from the FIFA World Cup tournament.

Instead, the army of light blue-clad fans at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, where Argentines impressively dominated the stands, are likely to be feeling vast relief rather than unbridled optimism.

First, one must consider where the pass was coming from, and when Messi made a decision to start his run.

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