Daily Archives: March 26, 2018

Sampaoli: Argentina coach claims Messi is hurt by World Cup pressure

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Argentina national team coach Jorge Sampaoli feels that Lionel Messi is unable to enjoy outings for his country with expectations so high, with the World Cup become “a revolver put to his head” and placeing unnecessary damaging pressure upon his shoulders.

Messi is yet to claim major silverware at senior international level has only been able to reach finals of the Copa America and World Cup, although he will have another opportunity to get his hands on the most elusive of prizes in Russia this summer.

Sampaoli believes expectation levels placed upon Messi, are already spiralling out of control in his book to be published in April, which “Viva”, Clarin’s Sunday magazine has been running snippets.

“Messi has a revolver put to his head called the World Cup and if he doesn’t win it, he’s shot and killed,” one of the snippets read. “As a result, he can’t enjoy his talent. What I find is that the negativity surrounding international football damages Messi.”

Still, Sampaoli concedes that he is working with a special talent.

“At this moment, I feel that I’m coaching the best player in history,” he added. “This is a guy who has stayed as the best in the world for 10 years. It’s difficult to assume a level of control when your leader knows he’s better than you, he executes things like nobody else.”

The former Sevilla coach has previously suggested that football owes Messi a World Cup win — given all that he has done for the game — but he is also aware that it will take a collective effort in Russia if Argentina are to emerge victorious.

“You have to find the best players and put them in their best position,” he said. “Leo has to play like he does for his club, to put him into another structure is madness.”

“Against Ecuador I was a bit strong in my tone suggesting that football owed Messi a World Cup, however I knew he was going to appear for us at the vital moments.”

Messi, who is suffering from muscle fatigue in a hamstring and adductor muscle at the moment, would miss Argentina’s game against Spain after the injury already ruled him out of the 2-0 win over Italy last Friday night.

Ronaldo scores brace in injury-time to lift Portugal over Egypt

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored two stoppage-time headers as Portugal rallied from behind to win 2-1 against Egypt, who had taken the lead though Mohamed Salah’s second-half strike, in a match billed as a stage for two of Europe’s current top strikers.

After a tame first half, Salah, who scored 28 Premier League goals this season so far, brought his superb domestic form to the international arena during a lively showing, and opened the scoring in the 56th minute with a sharp left-footed finish from the edge of the area.

Indeed, Egypt had looked superb and displayed defensive discipline under Argentine coach Hector Cuper as they looked primed to hold on for a famous victory until Ronaldo’s late intervention.

The Real Madrid star first met a Ricardo Quaresma cross in the 92nd minute to head home past the previously excellent Ahmed El-Shenawy, who fumbled the ball over his line.

Not content with that, he added a second just moments later when he rose again to divert a free kick from Quaresma into the far corner, and sealed the win.

The crowd, who were keen for a restart to equalize, were annoyed and jeered as there was initial confusion when the match referee consulted the video assistant referee (VAR) system for a possible offside before allowing Portugal’s second goal.

With the brace, Ronaldo moved into third place all-time with 81 international goals — past Japan’s Kunishige Kamamoto and behind only Iran’s Ali Daei (109) and Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas (84).

The former Manchester United star has also made it 43 goals in 40 appearances this season as Portugal laid down a marker before the World Cup, with 23 of those coming from his last 12 games.

Ryan Giggs: Wales coach urges Gareth Bale to stay at Real Madrid

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Ryan Giggs has urged Gareth Bale to resist any offers from Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and stay with Real Madrid.

Giggs, 44, spent his whole playing career at United and made a record 963 appearances, but he does not believe that the former Tottenham forward — who this week became his country’s leading scorer — should leave the Bernabeu despite Mourinho’s strong interest.

“It’s Real Madrid – there are only a handful of clubs who have got that aura,” Giggs said. “Of course you would want to stay there. What’s Gareth won, three Champions League titles? The proof is in that. When you are at clubs like that, you are always going to win things. Gareth has the ability to score every type of goal and there are similarities with Cristiano Ronaldo. They both started out as wingers and they are now goalscorers.”

Giggs’s spell as Wales manager started with a 6-0 win over China, inspired by a Bale hat-trick, but he acknowledges he has plenty to learn and has singled out Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and the England rugby union head coach, Eddie Jones as his role models.

“I spoke to a lot of managers in the time I was out of the game,” said Giggs. “I was busy and always watch other sports. I was in between Conte and Eddie at a charity dinner and I was constantly trying to talk to them. That was a nightmare actually as Eddie was trying to ask me questions about Sir Alex Ferguson and I wanted to get everything out of him.”

Giggs spent four games in interim charge of Manchester United after David Moyes was sacked and found it an enlightening experience.

“I learned a lot about how lonely it was when I was United manager,” he said. “When you shut the door of your office and everyone else has gone home, you’re on your own.

“It’s good to have people around and you want those people to be the ones you trust, but it can still be a lonely place. Ultimately you’re the boss and you have to make the decisions.”

Bale will feature for the Welsh team again as Giggs’s men would play Uruguay in the China Cup final, after South American nation beat the Czech Republic by 2-0 on Friday with goals from Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.