Argentina midfielder, Javier Mascherano, on Sunday refuted reports that a rift had opened between the players and coach Jorge Sampaoli following their 0-3 World Cup defeat by Croatia.
The loss to Croatia, Argentina’s heaviest in a World Cup group stage match since 1958, put the 2014 runners-up in serious danger of a first round exit before Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Iceland gave them a lifeline.
However, Argentina must still beat Nigeria in their final Group D game on Tuesday to stand a chance of reaching the last 16 and keep alive
“The relationship with the coach is totally normal,” Reuters quoted Mascherano, 34, as saying.
“Obviously, if we feel uncomfortable about anything, we let him know, and that goes for the players on the bench as well as the ones on the field,” he said at the team’s base outside Moscow.
Mascherano said he had played under eight national team coaches in his Argentina career and none of them had complained afterwards that the players had picked the team.
“There are many myths about the team and about this generation”.
“We need to be very optimistic. Believe it or not, we are World Cup runners-up and at some point we have to show that.
“If we don’t say what we think, we’re going to get to the game with a lot of insecurities.
“The aim is for everyone to give their knowledge and experience so that the team can rise again.
”I still believe a lot in these players that have taken us to three finals,” he added, referring to one World Cup and two Copa America finals.
“I’m not going to stop believing in them. We are aware of all the noise there is and, unfortunately, that does not help anyone”, he said.