Sampaoli: Messi not picking Argentina team

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli insists he is deciding team selection and tactics, and not Lionel Messi.

After Argentina were left on the brink of World Cup elimination following their defeat to Croatia, there was heavy speculation that Sampaoli would be immediately axed and that the players themselves had decided to pick the side.

Subsequent reports have suggested that Sampaoli conferred with Messi before introducing Sergio Aguero from the bench in the 2-1 victory over Nigeria, which secured Argentina’s place in the last 16.

But ahead of Saturday’s clash against France, Sampaoli says he remains the boss.

“We looked at different options in an important game and had to make a decision,” he said.

“I was simply communicating this, saying we were going to use a strategy we had rehearsed to use more attacking players.

“It was a simple exchange I had with one of my players, that is all.

“This group of players takes enormous pride in representing their country, playing for the shirt. That makes us dangerous for any opponent.

“After the game, the analysis will follow the result. They’ll say I’m an excellent manager if we win, if we lose they’ll say I’m very bad.”