While France's setup appears to have struggled to get their best out a star-studded squad, Argentina nearly went off the rails entirely with reports that Messi and Javier Mascherano are calling the shots.
Do you think Argentina can beat France this weekend? "'Plan' is a big word, but of course we will try to limit his influence".
Where and how to watch the live TV coverage of FIFA World Cup 2018 match?
The over-under on total goals scored in this 2018 World Cup fixture is 2. The most important one is the presence of Cristian Pavon in place of Gonzalo Higuain, as part of a tactical change that will feature Lionel Messi on a "False 9" role.
It's a decision, though, which Sampaoli will not take until Saturday, the day of the game, after Argentina reached the knockout rounds with a late win over Nigeria.
The model also knows Argentina didn't qualify for the Round of 16 until the final minutes of its third game.
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An own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty kick from Luka Modric handed the Croats their first win of the competition. Croatia top the group after 2-0 and 3-0 wins against Nigeria and Argentina respectively, but Hallgrimsson is undaunted.
Lloris refused to be drawn on comparisons between the talismanic Messi and France's prodigious winger Kylian Mbappe.
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 Saturday. "He's got outstanding qualities", he said, according to the Daily Express. The last time these two sides met was in 2009 in an global friendly which Messi and co had won 2-0. This move would also allow France to accommodate another player instead of Giroud.
"Messi is Messi, look at his stats, 65 goals in 127 matches (for Argentina), we would like to mark and neutralize him", France coach Deschamps told reporters Friday, ahead of the clash in Kazan.
Six Argentina players (Ever Banega, Gabriel Mercado, Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Marcos Acuna and Nicolas Otamendi) and three France players (Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Corentin Tolisso) are one booking away from a one-match ban. France, however, has looked like a solid squad.
Like many of his compatriots, Griezmann has fallen short of expectations and, with just a goal to his name, is promising fans there's more to come.
"Argentina called me to play for the team even though I wasn't starting for Benfica".