Messi is desperate to deliver against Nigeria, says Mascherano-English

Argentina midfield-general Javier Mascherano says teammate Lionel Messi is desperate to help his side bounce back against Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup.

The two-time world champions are on the brink of World Cup elimination after a 1-1 draw with Iceland and a 3-0 defeat by Croatia saw them take just one point from their first two matches. 

Messi has looked under immense pressure during both matches and shouldered a lot of the blame after seeing his penalty saved in the draw with minnows Iceland.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is clearly struggling to find form at the tournament, but Mascherano says Messi is as motivated as ever to perform.

“Leo is fine,” Mascherano told a news conference.

“But as a collective, where things don’t go as we’d like, we all have our own frustrations.

“He’s human and he has his own frustrations but he’s desperate to turn the situation around.

“He wants to show the world a different image to the one we’ve shown in the first two games

The former Barcelona player also dismissed talk of a rift between the squad and manager Jorge Sampaoli, insisting the players’ relationship with the 58-year-old is the same as before.

“The relationship with Sampaoli is totally normal, but if we feel uncomfortable, we will raise it, otherwise we would be hypocrites,” Mascherano said.

“The opposite would be to harm the team, we must seek the collective benefit, we are 23, also those of the squad,’ the former Barcelona defender added.

“We are not playing well and we take charge of the results. We will not be responding to things that others do.” 

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