Argentina are on the brink of suffering a humiliating group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup after losing 3-0 to Croatia on Wednesday night.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side were comprehensively outplayed by a far superior team and, in truth, looked clueless all night.
Even though Argentina have arguably the greatest footballer of all time in their ranks in the form of Lionel Messi, the South American nation have looked shambolic so far during this summer’s finals in Russia.
Messi attempted 11 shots and missed a penalty in Argentina’s disappointing 1-1 draw against Iceland last weekend.
But the Barcelona maestro, who looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders prior to kick-off, was virtually anonymous against Croatia in Nizhniy Novgorod.
There have already been calls for Sampaoli to resign following Argentina’s latest defeat. However, it seems inconceivable that Argentina’s Football Association would consider replacing the coach midway through the group stages.
As things stand, though, Argentina’s fate is now out of their own hands. They must beat Nigeria in their final game and hope that Croatia defeat Iceland to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
Simeone's phone call 'leaked' after Croatia match
If you were to ask fans back in Argentina which coach they would choose to replace Sampaoli this summer then it’s fair to assume most of them would name Diego ‘Cholo’ Simeone as their first choice.
The former Argentina midfielder has done a remarkable job with Atletico Madrid over the past seven years and is widely regarded as one of the world’s elite coaches at present.
However, Messi may not want Simeone in charge of the Albiceleste once he finds out what was said about him in the aftermath of the Croatia match.
What Simeone has said about Messi and Ronaldo
And during the conversation, Simeone claims that Messi is very good because he’s surrounded by brilliant players at club level.
Furthermore, he questions whether Cristiano Ronaldo would be better than Messi in a “normal team”.
"We have to realise that Messi is very good, but it is clear that he is very good because he is accompanied by extraordinary players,” Simeone says during the phone call, “so the question I ask is: If you had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo, for a normal team, who would you choose?"
Although it’s a perfectly fair question to ask, Simeone’s comments are unlikely to go down well with the Messi camp.
But if you were the manager of a ‘normal team’ - i.e - any team other than Barcelona - which of the two players would you rather have in a must-win game?
Ronaldo has proved at this World Cup that, even aged 33, he’s capable of producing when it matters.
Unfortunately, Messi has flattered to deceive so far - although he does still have one more opportunity to pull something out the bag.
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