Jorge Sampaoli Insists He’ll ‘Come Back Stronger’ After World Cup Exit Following 4-3 Loss to France

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli insists he’ll ‘come back stronger’ after ​La Albicelsete’s World Cup campaign came to an end following their 4-3 loss to France in the last 16. 

In one of the games of the tournament so far, the two sides headed into half time level after Angel Di Maria’s thumping effort cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, before an early goal in the second half from Gabriel Mercado put Argentina ahead.

France rallied however as a stunning Benjamin Pavard effort and brace from ​Kylian Mbappe put the French back into the ascendancy, rendering Sergio Aguero’s late header little more than consolation. 

It’s been a difficult tournament for Samapoli and Argentina, as questions of player unrest persisted throughout their time in Russia, yet speaking post-match, the 58-year-old believes he will learn from the experience.

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

As quoted by ​Sky Sports, he said: “I had many expectations and we wanted Argentina to go as far as possible in this ​World Cup. I always believed that Argentina could win, these frustrations will make me stronger, and this has allowed me to learn and to grow.

“The players have made a huge effort and it was a very difficult game. The players gave everything on the pitch but have not achieved our goal here in Russia. I’m sad and frustrated.”

Not since 2002 have Argentina failed to make it to at least the quarter finals at the World Cup, although despite Sampaoli’s struggles, not least trying to get the best out of ​Lionel Messi, he thanked his players for their efforts.

He continued, stating: “We had a clear need and that was that we had to win. We have the best player in the world and we had to try and create situations so we could use that player, who can have really brilliant moments.

“Sometimes we managed to do so, sometimes we didn’t. This team fought until the very last minute and nearly equalised at the end, and that’s what I really value. I want to say thank you to all those players for being here and for trying to go as far as possible.”

Spain Handed Injury Scare After Gerard Pique Suffers Ankle Knock in Training Ahead of Russia Tie

​Spain have been left sweating over the fitness of defender Gerard Pique after the ​Barcelona star suffered an ankle injury during training ahead of their World Cup last 16 clash with Russia on Sunday.

As reported by ​​Marca, the 31-year-old was involved in a collision with goalkeeper Pepe Reina, receiving treatment to his ankle before rejoining the training session at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

However, it is unclear how much damage was done to Pique’s ankle and he should be cleared to play in Spain’s knockout game against Russia as Fernando Hierro’s side look for a second win at the tournament.

Pique has played every minute of Spain’s campaign so far and is looking for his second World Cup title triumph after succeeding with the national team back in 2010. He was also part of the team that won the 2012 European Championship.

Hierro explained tactics during the training session while the squad went through ball exercises and rondos.

David de Gea is expected to start again despite recent reports claiming the Manchester United goalkeeper could be dropped, while Koke could play from the outset and Diego Costa is expected to feature again up front. 

Russia looked impressive during their group stage victories against Saudi Arabia and Uruguay but the 3-0 loss to Uruguay, who themselves reached the quarter finals ​after beating Portugal on Saturday, exposed the defensive fragilities present in the host nation’s side.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH36-ESP-MAR

Spain have conceded five goals in three games at this World Cup, three in the 3-3 draw against Portugal and two in the 2-2 tie with Morocco, and kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 success versus Iran. 

REVEALED: The Generous Gesture Liverpool Will Make for Naby Keita’s First Game in Pre Season Match

​New Liverpool signing Naby Keita will make his Reds debut in a pre season friendly against Chester next week, and the non league club are set to make 100% of the gate receipts.

The Chester Chronicle report that a strong Liverpool team filled with players currently not at the World Cup will play in the match, and Keita could be set to be included.

“It is a great gesture from Liverpool and we will receive 100% of the gate receipts,” said Chester chairman David Harrington-Wright.

“We have hosted their under-23s and women’s team here and we have a great relationship with them and they have been absolutely first class with us, they really have.

“Liverpool also know that they will be playing on a superb surface and that has been a major plus in them wanting to use us time and again and we are grateful for the support we have received from them over this and the gesture of allowing us to keep the profits from the game.

“It will be a hugely exciting day. Liverpool have told us they will be bringing a strong squad of first teamers, those who haven’t been at the World Cup.”

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

Fellow new signing Fabinho could also play, while Loris Karius, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and Virgil Van Dijk may also feature.

Uruguay 2-1 Portugal: Cavani Shines While Ronaldo Fizzles as La Celeste Progress to Quarter Finals

​Uruguay booked their place in the last 16 of the World Cup with a workmanlike 2-1 victory over Portugal, aided by two excellent goals by Edinson Cavani.

The game had barely had a chance to settle down before Uruguay were in front, Cavani linking up brilliantly with strike partner Luis Suarez to power in a bullet header from close range.

Uruguay v Portugal: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The early goal should have brought the match to life but even so the first half remained a tepid affair with few real chances to speak of, Suarez coming the closest to adding another goal when his low free-kick was well saved by Rui Patricio.

Portugal began the second half with a slight tweak in formation that saw Joao Mario and Bernardo Silva swap wings and subsequently showed more urgency in the second half, keeping Uruguay firmly penned back and finally getting their reward in the 55th minute when Pepe ghosted into the box to head home from Raphael Guerreiro’s pinpoint cross.

Yet despite Portugal’s dominance it only took a few minutes for Uruguay to restore their lead, Cavani racing onto a pass to curl home a beautiful first-time shot from the edge of the box.

Despite enjoying more than two thirds of the possession for much of the game, Portugal were unable to create many solid chances or cause any real trouble for the resolute Uruguayan defence.

​Cristiano Ronaldo was a particularly anonymous figure for a great deal of the match, rarely finding himself in any positions of real danger and being forced to resort to efforts from long range.

Portugal could have had an equaliser in the 70th minute when Fernando Muslera failed to grab hold of a cross but the ball dropped for Bernardo Silva on his weaker foot and the Manchester City forward volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

And although Portugal toiled away and spent almost the entirety of the second half camped in Uruguay’s half, they were unable to claw their way back into the game.

With their victory at the 2016 European Championship now a fading memory, this defeat now raises serious questions about where Portugal. 

Key players such as Ronaldo, Pepe, Bruno Alves and Ricardo Quaresma are now beginning to approach the twilight of their careers and are unlikely to be present at the next World Cup, meaning Portugal must look to their younger talents to lead the country forward as they bounce back from a disappointing campaign in Russia.

With few of these players managing to make a great impression at this World Cup, one could be forgiven for asking where Portugal will find the new leaders in their squad.

Uruguay will now look forward to their quarter-final tie with France on Friday and will expect to have their hands full after ​Les Bleus’ impressive 4-2 victory over Argentina earlier on Saturday.

Report Calls on Liverpool to Shortlist PSG Forward as Long-Term Replacement to Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp could be looking to sign Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Julian Draxler this summer after a deal for Lyon’s Nabil Fekir fell through, according to reports.

The Germany international was part of Joachim Löw’s squad that disappointed at the World Cup, with the reigning champions being sent home during the group stages following defeats against Mexico and South Korea.

Germany - Southern Tyrol Training Camp Day 6

Liverpool manager Klopp should be hoping that Draxler’s tournament-free summer will allow the Reds to swoop in and tempt PSG into a sale, according to the Liverpool Echo

The club are still looking to replace Philippe Coutinho, who left Anfield to join Barcelona in January, which has become a top priority this summer.

Draxler has been on Liverpool’s radar for a number of years, first breaking onto the scene with Schalke 04 before having an equally impressive spell with VfL Wolfsburg.

The 24-year-old then moved to Paris in 2017, where he has gone on to score 15 goals and claim 12 assists.

Liverpool did have a deal in place to sign Lyon talisman Fekir earlier this summer. The 24-year-old even completed his initial media duties with the Red before the French club announced that the move had fallen through, reportedly due to them backtracking on the initial fee following his medical.

FBL-WC-2018-FRA-ARRIVAL

Fekir is now being tipped for a move to Manchester United, with reports in Lyon suggesting that the Red Devils have already made an offer for the France international ahead of the new campaign.

French Journalist Explains Man Utd Fekir Offer as Report Claims Red Devils Submit Bid for Forward

Manchester United are hoping to capitalise on their rival’s misfortune this summer by signing Olympique Lyonnais talisman Nabil Fekir, according to reports in France.

The 24-year-old was tipped to join Liverpool earlier this summer but the Reds attempted to play hardball with the French club in the eleventh hour of negotiations, causing ‎Les Gones to pull out of the deal – leaving the Reds with egg on their face.

And now bitter rivals Manchester United will look to get one over on the Merseyside club by bringing Fekir to Old Trafford. Lyon based daily Le Progrès claims that the Red Devils have already launched an offer for the France international this summer.

Former Ligue 1 champions Lyon are having somewhat of a mass exodus this summer. Sergi Darder is the most experienced player to leave the Groupama Stadium, but youngsters Mouctar Diakhaby and Jean-Philippe Mateta have also moved on to join Valencia and Mainz respectively.

French journalist Romain Collet-Gaudin has also claimed that the interest could result in Liverpool upping their previous bid for Fekir, as the player still wishes to play for the Reds.

But Lyon’s most notable departure is that of 16-year-old wonderkid Willem Geubbels, who has left the club to join AS Monaco for £18m.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have been keeping themselves busy with incomings this summer. The club have signed teenage defender Diogo Dalot from FC Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred for a combined £73m, but their pursuit of Fekir could take the club’s spending into nine figures.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-LYON-NICE

United’s attempts to sign Fekir could also put their hopes of bringing Sergej Milinković-Savić to Old Trafford to bed. The Serbia international is expected to leave Lazio this summer, but Juventus are now the favourites for his signature.

Twitter Erupts as France Dump Lionel Messi & Argentina Out of 2018 World Cup

Argentina bowed out of the 2018 World Cup on Saturday, having emerged on the ​losing end of a 4-3 result against France at the Kazan Arena.

Jorge Sampaoli came into the tournament with many expectations. But their first game – a draw against Iceland – showed just how ill-prepared they were and they were made to scrape their way out of the group stage in their final opening-round match against Nigeria.

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Coming up against France on Saturday, you could tell that La Albiceleste were out of their depth.

Kylian Mabappe won an early penalty which was converted by Antoine Griezmann. But the South American nation would stun their opponents, against the grain, with Angel Di Maria popping up with a worldie from distance ahead of half-time.

​​

​​

Argentina would even go ahead in the second half after ​Lionel Messi’s shot was deflected into the goal by Gabriel Mercado in the 48th minute. And for a moment, it seemed like Sampaoli’s side were set to grind out a win.

​​

​​But Benjamin Pavard had other ideas, hitting his own belter from outside of the box with an insane volley to put the French back in level terms.

That was when Mbappe decided to take over and haul his country the rest of the way.

The precocious 19-year-old sent France ahead with a powerful shot from the left side of the goal after picking up a loose ball and creating a yard of space with an intelligent touch.

​​

​​

The Paris Saint-Germain attacker made it 4-2 with another strike after receiving Olivier Giroud’s measured pass in the box that resulted from a quick break that was actually started by Hugo Lloris in his own box.

​​

​​

​​

​​

Argentina, though, would have the final say on the scoring front in stoppage time, with Sergio Aguero, a substitute, getting a close-range header past the French keeper.

But that wasn’t to be enough, as the referee’s whistle brought an end to proceedings, breaking Argentinian hearts and sending the French into a frenzy. 

On to the quarter-finals!

Javier Mascherano Confirms Retirement From International Football After Argentina’s 4-3 France Loss

​Javier Mascherano has confirmed his retirement from international football after Argentina were defeated ​4-3 by France in a classic World Cup tie on Saturday, stating it is now time for younger players to step up to the mark.

A Kylian Mbappe hat trick alongside Antoine Griezmann’s penalty saw France through to the quarter finals by the skin of their teeth, despite Angel Di Maria’s rocket, Gabriel Mercato’s scrappy finish and Sergio Aguero’s late header.

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Mascherano, who now plays in China after leaving ​Barcelona in January, told reporters as quoted by ​ESPN“This story has ended. We gave it our everything until the end,” the former Barcelona and Liverpool man told cameras after the match.


“It was a crazy match, in which we didn’t start well but we recovered and we turned it around. But their tying goal did so much damage to us.

“It cost us so much to lift ourselves up again. From this point on I will be just another fan of the Argentina national team. It is over. The illusion is shattered.

“It’s time to say goodbye and for the younger players to step in.”

Lucas Biglia has announced his international retirement, while there is also uncertainty over the future of ​Lionel Messi at international level, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner previously quitting Argentina duty after failing to win silverware.

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The Barcelona magician could not inspire an average Argentina team to improve upon their second place finish from four years ago, despite playing an integral role in the 2-1 win against Nigeria.