Jorge SAMPAOLI: “Iceland will make us work, as everyone else”


Argentina National Team coach Jorge SAMPAOLI took to the press to talk about Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Argentina coach SAMPAOLI commented on his team’s World Cup draw, stating that Iceland will make Argentina work, much like every other team. The Argentina man also spoke about Lionel MESSI and Cristiano RONALDO. Here’s what he had to say:

Jorge SAMPAOLI on Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria:

“These are rivals that are coming with few obligations and a lot of enthusiasm for a unique opportunity as the World Cup is. They are going to make us fight but it will depend on us. We need to establish a way and be the Argentina we want to be.

“Iceland will make us work, as everyone else. Nigeria is unpredictable, they are very fast. We need to study them well. Croatia has an excellent midfield line with Luka MODRIC, Ivan RAKITIC and Ivan PERISIC. They also have (Mario) MANDZUKIC as a No. 9. They are very strong.”

Jorge SAMPAOLI on Lionel MESSI and Cristiano RONALDO:

“Cristiano is an extraordinary player, but I think and feel that in the last 10 years Messi was the best player in the world, but it is my opinion, by statistics, by amount of goals, assists, flair, style, but it is a particular thought of mine.

“There are some players behind them (MESSI and Cristiano), such us NEYMAR or Luis SUAREZ, also some youngsters such as (Kylian) MBAPPE or (Ousmane) DEMBELE. They will fight for it in the future. However, while MESSI and Cristiano keep playing, the others will just fight for the third or fourth position.

“I think in every time there is a footballer who is considered the best: PELE, MARADONA and MESSI now. But now he has remained ten years in Europe, being the best player in the world, scoring more than 500 goals in this so complicated European football.

“So you don’t have to have a World Cup to be the best in the world.”


  1. Croatia is clearly above Nigeria and Iceland on the paper but this team often cracks in big competition(except 1998). Besides Modric not young anymore and his recent perf not great which may explain why Real Madrid is under expectations, Rakitic not the same player that he used to be, Mandzukic sit on the bench most of the time, so Persic seems to be the only the one more consistent.

    Nigeria has 2 top class wingers: Moses and Iwoba, its a kind of fantasm team but not balanced enough and few players have experience. Their fullbacks and CB are actually quite weak. To me, they are behind Morocco and Senegal. They can beat anyone in friendly game but in a real competition it is a different story.

    Iceland, as I said previously, they are the most serious opponent of the group. Simple and efficient football, no need to have 10 opportunities to score 1 goal, good at corner and defend well. Howeve I don’t see any talented player. For that kind of team, they are usually not confortable if the opponent play football based on possesion.

    So no panic, its totally possible to win those 3 games

  2. sampaoli has a lot of faith in the current argentina players?! in which in particular? besides messi…every single one has let us down so many times…they let us down big time! if messi doesnt deliver a little spark to this Team at the wc then this is gonna be a real humiliation…probably the biggest….in 2002 we at least could say it was a little of bad luck to fly home after the group stages…this excuse wont work this time when we get torn a new one by all 3 opponents…

  3. very hard to see we r progressing…all 3 r better than us…clearly better than us…crotia has so many world class Players…mandzukic, perisic, modric, rakitic, kalinic…too big for us…clear defeat. Island r impossible to beat for any team..they will go far in this tournament…they have Zero pressure and a very very good Team with superb Players who r willing to give it all…bjarnason, finnbogason and gunnarson will rip us apart…clear defeat for us…Nigeria…they r to fast for us and to loaded with self esteem….even under the best circumstances for us i see 0 to 2 Points…dont dream its over guys…

    • And what kind of excuse do you want to come up with when Argentina wins the WC? Let me tell you a good source that you can find the best excuses for your pessimism. There is a book called 365 excuses for all occasions, so let that book be your best friend.

      • winning the wc against all odds….defeating teams that r in superb form coming to the wc with winning streakes on their books and that are used to their systems with plenty of options on every position…that counts for all our 3 opponents not to mention the real top teams…how do u see us winning anything? its so blind eyed…wishful thinking…we used to be a power house…and now we r living of a distant memory of glory and world class Teams we once had…that we r no more…sad but true but thats the way it is….if we can dream of winning the cup with our current form and in our current situation than anybody can dream about winning it…panama has the same chances that we have….

  4. According to ole’s Hernan Claus, 13 players have secured their spots in the final 23:

    Sergio Romero, Nuhuel Guzman; Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Mercado, Marcos Acuna, Lucas Biglia, Enzo Perez, Eduardo Salvio, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala, Lionel Messi, and Sergio Aguero.

    These 19 are competing for the final 10:
    1. GK: Agustin Marchesin (He would have been an automatic, but his performance vs. Nigeria costs him)
    2. GK: Geronimo Rulli
    3. DF: German Pezzella (If we had had one friendly only, vs. Russia, Pezzela would have been selected, but he was below average against Nigeria).
    4. DF: Federico Fazio
    5. DF: Marcos Rojo
    6. DF: Ramiro Funes Mori (Sampaoli is high on him)
    7. DF: Fabricio Bustos

    I think we will bring 5-6 central defenders to the World Cup. I am sure at least one of Marcos Rojo or Funes Mori (if not both) is in along with Fazio.

    8. Ever Banega
    9. Matias Kranevitter
    10. Guido Pizarro
    11. Leandro Paredes
    12. Giovani Lo Celso
    13. Javier Pastore

    Ever Banega was Sampaoli’s 3rd most important player when he took charge only after Messi and Di Maria, but the guy never had a really good game in all games under Sampaoli. The original plan was him and Biglia duo in midfield. Biglia being more of a defensive minded, and Banega is the more offensive minded. But it did not work as these duo struggled against parked the bus teams.

    Then Enzo Perez was tried and was excellent. So now it appears to be Biglia-Perez as starters.

    Banega? According to Sampaoli he is an hybrid player, that’s why Sampaoli likes him. Sampaoli clearly said that Banega is number 5 (DM) meaning that he is the one Sampaoli was preparing to start along with the real number 5 (Biglia) or to back up Biglia himself as number 5.

    Then Sampaoli tried to use Banega as 5 against Nigeria, along with Perez. The result was pathetic. Banega is clearly not a 5.

    Logically, we will bring at least 4 central midfielders/DM. So far the favorites are: Biglia, Perez, Paredes/Lo Celso, and Banega.

    But again, we can NOT just bring one pure #5 in Biglia with no back ups. Masche can back him up, but Masche is registered as a defender now. So who?

    Banega? It does not work
    Pizarro? That was the original plan, but Pizarro did not appear to convince Sampaoli
    Kranevitter? Excellent in one starting match, but I am not sure if it is enough to convince Sampaoli.

    There is no way we will take Biglia, Perez, Banega, and Paredes/Lo Celso. Because that would leave us very thin (1 player) at #5 and too many players (3) at #8.

    Banega’s stock just keeps going down, from the third most important player for Sampaoli to a possible cut. If we take Banega, then Paredes or Lo Celso will have to be cut for the sake of one more defensive minded DM if we only take 4 players at midfield instead of 5.

    14. Diego Perotti
    15. Emiliano Rigoni
    16. Christian Pavon
    17. Alejandro Gomez

    Here the left winger is covered by the assurance of Di Maria and Acuna. Perotti has a small chance to be selected as left winger only IF Sampaoli thinks Di Maria as one of the left forwards like he did against Ecuador where he was excellent there.

    Left forward is one position that Sampaoli has yet to find anyone to start. Dybala can’t play there. Gomez was tried but not convincing enough. Di Maria was great there against Ecuador, but Di Maria is also needed as left winger according to Sampaoli.

    Gomez should make it especially he is so versatile that he can even play in midfield for Sampaoli’s or left winger or left forward. Plus, Gomez is a great PK taker. That should come in handy for us.

    The right winger has one player assured: Eduardo Salvio. Pavon is competing with Rigoni for one spot.

    18. Gonzalo Higuain
    19. Mauro Icardi

    I am sure both will be selected eventually. And for me, they are must. We are talking about World Cup here, not Confederation cup. We need all of the best possible players. Icardi should stay as Aguero’s back up because he is a better PK taker than Aguero. Notes that whoever starts at 9, will most likely be replaced in the second half because of the number of players we have there. PK shootout is always a possibility after the first 3 matches.

    Then there are the 16 wild card players. These players have very small chance to make the final 23 unless any of the first 13 and 19 above are injured:

    The 16 are: Esteban Andrada; Jose Luis Gomez, Emanuel Mammana, Juan Foyth, Mateo Musacchio, Nicolas Tagliafico, Emiliano Insua; Pablo Perez, Ignacio Fernandez, Manuel Lanzini, Augusto Fernandez, Fernando Belluschi; Joaquin Correa, Lautaro Acosta, Lautaro Martinez, and Dario Benedetto.

    I don’t think Sampaoli will try any new names other than all these names mentioned here when we have only 2-4 friendly matches remaining total before the World Cup.


  5. Sampaoli better not take any team lightly .. all three teams are not as strong as we are on paper but they are very much capable to beat us… and by now he must have figured out the lack of goals in last 3 years is only because of the lack of creative midfield players… one of the good sign we have seen is Perotti from Roma.. who seems to be a perfect winger for us.. he should start ahead of Dimaria

    • Di maria is part of the whatsapp group & sampaoli himself said di maria is second to messi in terms of importance in the team.
      so forget about perotti starting ahead of him. Lazy aguero will also start ahead of icardi.

      • We have no choice other than to see Di Maria playing like this, He will be there at the WC so we have to be used to him,well its already been ages we are seeing him play like this. Its strange that at least some options should have been tried by any of our past coaches at least as a backup for Di maria, After a long time now we have seen Acuna now, also may be Perrotti can convince Sampa too. but only as a backup to Di Maria.

        Well all our coaches likes Di Maria so he have to be doing something right is int it. And we cant expect our favorite players to be likened by the coach too. They have more clear idea about a particular player than any of us. Di Maria may be bringing something to the team that other options are not bringing, I dont know.

    • agreed, d/m should be in the center near messi or not at all, his crossing is just getting worse and worse and decision making, just watch todays psg match to see just how bad he has become but in the center near messi that seems to work…so far.
      in the center near messi or not at all.

    • Guled, I understand your frustration but the team has not reached peak level yet. But don’t forget that it wasn’t long ago when Argentina could not keep possession, let alone put 3 passed together. No new players were tried, line up was set in stone. So the team hasn’t regressed as I see.

      • We don’t have the players to play possession football & untill he realizes that the team will be chaotic like now.
        I said in another thread the best way we can succeed at the worldcup is if we play like sabella did last term.tough defense and using the technical ability of likes of dybala and messi is the best way. It has worked for us before and always works at international tournaments.

        • I agree with your assessment there. I always said that Sabella created a blueprint tactics for the NT but Some coaches think they know better. I prefer a team that plays to its players’ strength as opposed to possession based tactics. Then you have keynoard pundits who claim Sabella was defensive coach. Show me another coach with a better offensive record then I will agree.

          That being said, I have faith in Sampaoli. I like his cockiness. I feel like he knows something that world hasn’t seen yet from his team.

          • Thats true, And Sampa has restructured the entire system from top to bottom, like under 15,17,20 they all play same style so it will really helps us in future to have an identity, Its always helpful to have a continuity. He not only talks he has already implemented what he says too. Thats one thing i like about Sampa, Credit should be given to Tapia too.

            May be we wont have a very good 2018 WC(Unless Messi Magic works, He cant win it alone but if he can somehow drag us) But 2022 WC may be better for us i think.(Only worry the Qualifiers its getting tighter and tighter with each time) by 2022 Sampa can easily find a fantastic group who can implement his ideology.

  6. We are in serious need of Play makers, Hope someone will show up with the Caliber of Riquelme, Aimar, Veron soon. Emanuel Reynoso & Ezequiel Barco looks promising. Play making is an art, We can find more forwards,wingers but creative Play makers are indeed rare to find nowadays. I think its because of the MESSI influence on the current & upcoming generations, Everybody wants to be like MESSI. or may be the style of play have become faster.

    By the way Banega had a hell of a game vs Liverpool. I Really don’t know what the Hell these guys are doing when playing for us, Is it lack of Motivation or the System whatever its rather frustrating to some players giving their heart out while playing for clubs.

    • I think it more about motivation. Think about Di Maria, he gave his heart out last year when he played against Barca and Real. But in normal matches he is very wasteful and annoying.

      Right after WC14 , Di Maria played a superb game against Germany, he had a point to prove.

      Garay when used to play for us would only play official matches, not a single friendly. This is why Martino dropped him. Now even though Sampaoli called, he won’t return.

      Some players would give their heart out for nt, most don’t care that much. Brazilian players always play better with nt than their clubs.

    • Banega didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. He was playing deep, passing the ball around laterally and back but not incisive forward passes. Its not like he was bringing the ball out from defence in transition. The NT this point in time requires multi purpose workhorses. Guys who can win and distribute the ball as well as run off the ball. Banega is not in the category. He can’t win possession nor generate chances at pace. I don’t hate the guy, he’s just no longer NT material.

      • Well at least had he played up to his caliber like what doing at club level, It would have been really help full for us.The guy is world class on a given day but we have heard it so many times about Banega.

        I don’t think we have enough players who can be really good for us in the Midfield. Gago would have been so useful for us. Its an important position, connecting the Defense with the attack. Biglia cant do that he is an out and out destroyer(And he is great at that)

        Our only hope is Enzo Perez, He would be so vital for us at the World Cup. Other than that well we shall see who will make it to the WC Banega, Pastore, Lanzini, Lo Celso, Lamela, Nacho (want to see this guy along with Belluschi in a full match),Augusto??

        By the way i recently read one quote from Sampa that he hasn’t found a position for Paredes he don’t even know where to play him, That sounds awkward. So i really don’t think Sampa is gonna start Paredes now. May be he can find a spot among the 23 only because he is used to Russian atmosphere. Well really wanted to see what Paredes can offer to us.

        Sampa will find a solution surely, Well its a long lonely time till the World Cup, Kind of boring.

      • Haha, and I thought you were football smarts. Nothing you said make sense about Banega. What games were you watching? Banega was instrumental against Liverpool, Villarreal, and Deportivo. Everything at Sevilla revolve around Banega; he constantly move the ball forward with a lot of key passes, so I don’t know what game you were watching, goals and assist speak for themselves including a goal blocking defensive save against Liverpool which would have put them up 2-4 against Sevilla. I sure don’t see Kroos, Modric, Iniesta or Busquet doing the things for Barcelona and Real Madrid that you keep on saying Banega is not doing. Under Berrizo, Banega game has been at another level, world class. At Sevilla, Banega is the one that starts all the play, his teams mates are always moving instead of balling watching. If Banega drops deep, Pizarro runs forward to receive the pass or create a decoy for a pass. Sevilla scored 8 goals in their last three games, so how is it that You say Banega doesn’t make forward passes? Stop being ignorant bro, act like somebody who watches and know the game. I watch all Sevilla training sessions and games, but what you just wrote is inaccurate bro. Banega is scoring, assisting, and making key passes for Sevilla, he also commands all the respect of the entire Sevilla dressing room. Look at even the young German kid Geis who play for Sevilla, Banega is now his mentor. Dude watch some games, remove the blind fold from your eyes and you’ll see clearly. Bring on Real Madrid next game. Btw, Pozarro is easily the best purchaee made in La Liga this season. Anyways, stay up man, as I said before, I like your comments , but you’re making no sense here because unlike you, the La Liga commentators and Sevilla fans are seeing a different Banega this season. Where are all the forward passes guys like Kroos, Modric, Ineista, Isco have provide for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively at the start of this season?

        • Well its like this Some may not like some players, So its like No Matter how great that particular player plays they will still get the hate,(DI MARIA, BANEGA, HIGUAIN r the most hated here i guess, If we have a poll) End of the day we all want Argentina to win a World Cup, that unites us all. I definitely thinks Banega will be in th 23 how he will help us i m not sure. But he is one player whom i like the most among the current players(Wish he could really boss our Midfield along with Pastore)

          Well on another note we rarely find the defense splitting Pass from any Mid fielders (be it X or Y) nowadays, It was another Era, Nowadays its more about the Physical play).Well some exceptions are there like Iniesta etc.

        • Big Banega fan Kid, I have no problem with you. But Enzo Perez has already played Banega out of the starting line up. I’m sure you didn’t pick that up I guess. Sampaoli not starting him vs Ecuador speaks volumes. The Nigeria match vindicates my opinion which doesnt need to agree with yours. Just like some do not like Di Maria and Higuain, I don’t like Banega and the legend Macherano ( he’s not the 2014 version anymore) are our major weaknesses in midfield and at the back. I’m not interested in your holier than thou analysis. You are the same person who said Argentina was going to lose 8-0 to Brazil when Sampaoli took over. Same guy who was trying to convince us that Tata was good coach. We can agree to disagree.

          • @Sab:Enzo haven’t played Banega out of the team. Sampaoli selected players that suit the game at hand. Enzo had to run back to Argentina because no way he was going to start in this current Valencia starting XI. Enzo Perez is nothing but a squad player, he doesn’t have the quality to start seven games at the world cup. The reason why Banega didn’t start against Ecuador was because he was out partying with his wife after the Peru game and posted pictures on social media. Sampaoli wasn’t haven’t none of it hence the reason Banega did not feature at all against Ecuador. Nigeria match vindicates nothing; Nigeria was like cones during the first half. Sampaoli got complacent during the start of the second half, instead of resting Masche, whom already played a full 90 minutes against Russia and adjusted his tactics, he insisted on keeping Masche on the field for the second period and took the team foot off the gas pedal.

            Friendly is just friendly, back in June 4th of 2014, Cameroon drew 2-2 away with Germany, if you had watch that game, you’d come with the conclusion that Cameroon was going to be a formidable team at the 2014 world cup, but that wasn’t the case, they turn out to be the worst team at the world cup. Aguero got hurt and it changes the second half. It doesn’t help when you have below average players like Benedetto and Marchesin suiting up for Argentina. Enzo Perez whom I like, is nothing close to Banega quality. Watching Banega play is like watching players like Xavi and Iniesta on the ball. Banega ratings on FIFA is 85 while Enzo Perez is 78. I’m not saying you should like Banega, just cut out the disingenuous and negative comments when it comes to Banega, you’re really stretching with some of your Banega comments to be honest. Even if you don’t like someone, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an honest conversation, and say Player A or B had a great game. Tata as a coach took Paraguay to a Copa final and knock defending world cup champions Italy from the 2010 world cup group stage. Moreover, Tata took Argentina to two consecutive finals without conceding a goal. Again, you can make up stuff, but it doesn’t make you right or justify your comments.

    • Good observation Mik, Emanuel Reynoso is quite interesting one. As for me Barco more kind of attacking midfielder than classic playmaker. As well as Nacho. Belluschi deserves more minutes.

  7. Sebastian Riquelme, the younger brother of Juan Roman, has debuted in Superliga while son of Juan Sebastian Veron in one of youth teams of Estudiantes de la Plata.

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