Argentina's World Cup hopes are hanging by a thread after they were thrashed 3-0 by Croatia on Thursday night.
Star man Leo Messi failed to make an impact once again and - since the full-time whistle was blown - much of the post-match discussion has involved his name.
Argentina's under-fire boss Jorge Sampaoli suggested that Messi is limited with the national team because of his teammates.
“I think that because of the reality of the Argentine squad, it sort of clouds Leo’s brilliance,” he said, as per the Daily Mail.
“Leo is limited because the team doesn’t gel ideally with him as it should."
"As coaches we need to realise these things and try to deal with them. I’m the one that needs to accept it.”
Sampaoli was never going to win over the dressing-room by suggesting Argentina's players are "clouding" Messi's brilliance.
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero stopped in the mixed zone after the 3-0 defeat and was asked about Sampaoli's post-match comments.
The 30-year-old striker was clearly unhappy with his 58-year-old coach.
"Let him say what he wants", said Aguero before storming off.
Sampaoli, who was in charge of Chile at the 2014 World Cup, signed a five-year contract with with the AFA in June 2017.
Various reports claim that terminating his deal would cost a cash-strapped Argentina FA €20m.
“I definitely feel pain,” Sampaoli admitted, as per the Daily Mail.
“As a coach it’s been a long time since I’ve gone through this experience and obviously it’s much more painful when I’m wearing the jersey of my country.
“Our plan for this match didn’t work out. We have to put everything we have in the last opportunity we have to fight, give it our all.
“We have no other alternative. There’s pain because we weren’t at the level the Argentina people expected of us.”
Second-half goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic made it two wins from two for Croatia who are now assured of their place in the last 16.
Meanwhile, Argentina - who drew 1-1 with Iceland in their opening fixture - are staring elimination in the face.
Sampaoli's side must beat Nigeria in their final Group D match to stand any chance of progressing to the last-16 stage.
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