Argentina bond with coach Jorge Sampaoli 'totally normal' - Javier Mascherano

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Despite the demands of the players, Sampaoli was given a stay of execution by Tapia after being summoned to the President's room at Argentina's base in Bronnitsy, 60 miles outside Moscow.

Javier Mascherano has denied all reports that relations between Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli and the national team squad have broken down.

Former Argentina and Inter Milan midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron is unsure why Jorge Sampaoli made a decision to leave Mauro Icardi out of his World Cup squad.

The Albiceleste left it late before clinching a spot in this year's World Cup with captain Lionel Messi scoring a hat trick in his team's last qualifier, a 3-1 win at Ecuador on October 10.

Spain full-back Jordi Alba insisted he could not understand the criticism of Argentina star and Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi at the World Cup. What's happening to the team right now is what has happened to Argentina in these last four disgraceful years: "anarchy, no leadership from the players, coaches or directors".

Messi, who turned 31 on Sunday, is yet to score or provide an assist at the showpiece event, while he had a penalty saved during a 1-1 draw with Iceland.

"Leo looks fine to me, but by playing the game we played, that went against him".

The Balkans lead Group D after having won the first two games, but they can lose first place if Nigeria beat Argentina by a landslide.

"He is a human being who has his frustrations because things haven't worked out, but so are we all".

Argentina will face Nigeria in St. Petersburg on Tuesday in a game vital to their chances of moving on.

In two World Cup games, the only constant has been the fact that Argentina can not get out of its own way.

Argentina are clinging to the hope their captain bails them out again.