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Group D leaders Croatia have accumulated maximum points from their matches against Nigeria and Argentina, meaning they are already assured of a place in the last-16, although top-spot is not yet guaranteed.

Nigeria sit second in the group after beating Iceland 2-0 and just a draw might be enough to take them through on goal difference.

Jaws dropped when Willy Caballero gifted Ante Rebic a free shot at goal as Argentina faced Croatia at the World Cup.

However, bouncing back will take a huge improvement in performance and strength of character so far unseen from the two-time world champion in Russian Federation.

"We have to make our goal five games to reach the final". The draw against Argentina was an upset, but Iceland then dropped the next game 2-0 to Nigeria. The talent is all there, but there must be a solid strategy in place and Lionel Messi must perform at the level he is capable of playing at.

With no provision for Sampaoli's contract to be unilaterally rescinded until after the 2019 Copa América, it is thought that a mutual agreement to part ways will be sought after the World Cup.

"Personally, the virtual world doesn't affect me at all", he said.

A chastening 3-0 defeat to Croatia in Group D last week made for grim reading in that regard for one of worldwide football's heavyweight nations.

"I took responsibility for the defeat (against Croatia) and I am totally confident that we are going to win tomorrow and secure the victory", Sampaoli said.

Messi's failure to match the achievements of Maradona, who single-handedly carried the team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, will otherwise never be forgotten.

"I think that match was complicated for Leo, the structure of the game didn't favour him and he didn't get a lot of balls from the midfield", Sampaoli told reporters.

Croatia have won two consecutive World Cup matches for the first time since 1998.

But others remained confident that Messi and the team will rise to the occasion.

In their hour of need, Argentina need Messi's best once more.

"It is the most critical situation I have experienced, along with the Ecuador game", said Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia on Sunday.


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