Mascherano denies rift with Sampaoli

Javier Mascherano has rubbished reports of a fall-out between players and manager Jorge Sampaoli ahead of Argentina’s crucial match with Nigeria.

Argentina are winless after their two opening matches against Iceland and Croatia and need to win the final match against the West African country on Tuesday to potentially save their disastrous campaign at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Sampaoli has been under fire since the humiliating 3-0 loss to Croatia that has put Argentina’s hopes of making it to the round of 16 in jeopardy.

Reports had suggested that the Argentina Football Association (AFA) will sack Sampaoli before their final Group D match with Nigeria because of a fall-out with the players.

Mascherano told reporters: “The relationship with the coach is completely normal.

“Obviously, when we feel uncomfortable about something we speak with him because if we didn’t we would be hypocrites.”

“We know the situation is tricky. We have to be united, to express our opinions, and do everything possible so the team goes into the game in the best position.”