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26th Jun 2018

Marcos Rojo reveals what Lionel Messi said in his half-time team talk

Messi spoke to his teammates in the tunnel before the second half


Argentina have reached the knockout stages of the World Cup and did it the hard way.

After drawing with Iceland in their opening game of the tournament in Russia, they suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat to Croatia and went into Tuesday’s match with Nigeria needing a win to reach the last-16.

Lionel Messi gave them the lead in the first-half with a brilliant goal, but Nigeria equalised through Victor Moses just after half-time from the penalty spot.

It looked like the African side were going through to play France on Saturday, until Marcos Rojo popped up.

The Manchester United defender smashed home an excellent volley four minutes from full-time, one of the few pieces of quality from Argentina on the night, and sent his country into the next round.

There were jubilant scenes amongst the Argentina players at full-time, but their manager didn’t join in with the celebrations.

Jorge Sampaoli stormed straight down the tunnel, an act that will only add to speculation that he has fallen out with his players.

It appears as though the senior players in the Argentina team are at odds with Sampaoli.

It was notable that, just before the second-half, the Argentina manager sat on the bench as Messi rallied the troops.

Messi is the team’s captain, so it wasn’t too surprising to see him deliver a speech just before a massively important half of football – even if the act didn’t fit with the perception of the Barcelona forward as an introvert.

Messi’s speech to his team conveyed just how much trouble Argentina were in at that point.

Following the final whistle, Rojo spoke about Messi’s team talk. The Argentina defender is reported to have said:

“During halftime, Messi said that all of us have the duty to score so whenever we get the chance, we shoot, no matter our position… So, when I saw that ball coming towards me, I kicked it in with all that I had in me and [laughs] it went in.”

Next up for Argentina is France on Saturday in the last-16.