France vow to end Lionel Messi's World Cup dreams

France vow to end Lionel Messi's World Cup dreams

A 1-1 draw with minnows Iceland and a humbling 3-0 defeat to Croatia left the 2014 finalists on the verge of elimination, but a 2-1 win over Nigeria saw Argentina through in second place.

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 a shining light for us all, and we have to do our very best to all try to be at his level".

"It's normal he wasn't as confident as normal because we didn't start the tournament so well", said Sevilla midfielder Banega. "He knows all the passion I put into everything I do", Sampaoli said. "If you've played against him already, you may be aware of some situations that repeat themselves".

Argentina lead 6-3 against France in global tournaments including the World Cup and friendlies. Both were among the pre-tournament favorites to win the world championship, but group-stage results paired them together at this relatively early juncture.

What will be the likely lineups in France vs Argentina match?

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Since the introduction of the round of 16 in 1986, France have always made it past that stage whenever they've reached it (1986, 1998, 2006, 2014).

Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain has not scored for his country in his last eight games. Les Bleus have conceded just one goal in the tournament in Russian Federation and that came on a penalty kick. He's yet to register a shot on target at this year's World Cup, having spent 200 minutes on the pitch.

"Honestly, I have not decided yet on the starting lineup". On the performances so far these are the two sides I can't see winning it. "We have the best player on earth, but we have others who can make things hard for them too".

Among the four matches on first day of knockout stage is the clash between Argentina and France - two of the sides that were expected to rule in Russian Federation but only ended up being under-performed.

France's team, whose average age is 25, will be looking to awake from their recent slumber and Sampaoli, whose side's average age is 30, underlined the danger of allowing the France to dictate play. France, however, has looked like a solid squad.

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