Lionel Messi will carry the weight of a nation on his shoulders when Argentina face Nigeria at the World Cup on Tuesday.
After picking up just one point from their opening two group matches, La Albiceleste must win to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage.
Messi has been sub-par so far in Russia, missing a penalty against Iceland and failing to inspire his teammates against Croatia, but he has one more match to turn things around.
Jorge Sampaoli is expected to ring the changes, with Willy Caballero expected to be replaced in goal by Franco Armani following two rocky performances.
Argentina lined up in a 4-3-3 formation in training, with Messi supported up front by Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria.
That would support claims that Sergio Aguero will be dropped from the starting line-up.
According to the Independent, these changes have come about after Sampaoli allowed the players to have a large say in the team selection and the formation.
Kaka nails it about Messi
That says a lot about the disorganisation behind the scenes at the camp right now.
One man who sympathises with Messi during this difficult moment is Kaka.
Many expect Messi to be able to carry Argentina but Kaka realises it’s not as easy as that.
If the players around him are struggling, Messi is likely to struggle too.
“Messi is going through a difficult period with Argentina and this shows the importance of the group in soccer,” Kaka said, per ESPN.
“He is someone who strengthens those around him, but when it’s not working he also starts to struggle.
“It’s quite surprising that against Nigeria, this struggling Argentina side could still qualify, but we’ll see what happens.”
There’s likely to be a great deal of change should Argentina fail to beat Nigeria and crash out at the group stage.
There’s no way Sampaoli will continue as the manager while Messi could retire, just as he did briefly in 2016 after losing the Copa America final to Chile.
For a country with such a proud football history, this mess won’t be allowed to continue.
Expect drastic action to take place in Argentina in the coming years.
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