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World Cup 2018 Preview: Lionel Messi Not the One Making the Calls for Argentina, but His Play Could Determine Their Fate

Argentina will face France next in the Knockout Phase of the World Cup

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi during Argentina's World Cup match against Nigeria |

Lionel Messi has often been lauded as a genius on the football pitch, a player capable of bending the game to his will.

However, even if Messi's mind is perfect for the sport, even he is not relied upon to play and come up with the team's strategy at the same time.

After cameras caught Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli having a discussion with Messi during the team's most recent match against Nigeria, some fans were speculating that perhaps the player was making some coaching decisions.

Sampaoli has denied the claims, and he said that it was simply an instance of a coach having a talk with his player, Sky Sports reported.

It's probably a good thing that Messi is not being relied upon by Argentina to also dictate substation patterns and come up with gameplans because he already has a lot to deal with.

The moment Messi steps on to the field to lead Argentina against France in the two nations' upcoming Knockout Phase clash, eyes will quickly look to Messi.

For his part, France coach Didier Deschamps said that there is no specific "anti-Messi plan" in place for the upcoming game, but he does want his players to do all they can to keep Messi under control, ESPN reported.

Thus far in this World Cup, Messi has not looked completely like himself on the pitch.

Messi was aggressive in Argentina's first World Cup game against Iceland, but he was also off-target for much of the match. He toned down the aggression for Argentina's subsequent matches against Croatia and Nigeria.

Messi finally broke through against Nigeria with a goal, though the team would probably prefer that he takes more than just two shots when they face off against France.

It is now up to Messi to strike that ideal balance between aggression and patience, and Argentina will be relying on him to figure that out as they look to advance in the tournament.

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