Lionel Messi's tactical understanding surprises Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli

Published On: May 12, 2018 02:57 PM NPT

Argentina’s World Cup ambitions rest heavily on the shoulders of Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, who is still searching for his first piece of major silverware with his country.

The 30-year-old has been part of White and Sky Blues sides that have finished runners-up on three occasions in the Copa America (2007, 2014 and 2016) and of course he was the mainstay during the 2014 World Cup final loss to Germany.

Although, it’s worth reminding that Messi was named the FIFA Best Player of the Tournament in Brazil.

This time around, the nation will again rely on Messi to produce the goods and coach Jorge Sampaoli – who took charge in June 2017 – has been pleasantly taken aback by the maestro’s tactical influence and understanding.

“We were very surprised by what Messi knows about football (a lot),” the 58-year-old said of the Blaugrana icon, as reported by El Pais.

He added: “The first time you come to see him, you’re nervous, you do not know what you’re going to find, but he likes to talk about football and he understands the game very well. We asked him about Jordi Alba’s season, because we wanted Tagliafico to make similar movements. And when we expected him to tell us: ‘Well, there’s no Neymar and he has more spaces’, he jumped us with a tactical recital, if Iniesta does this, if Busquets the other … it’s a show (and so on).”

Argentina face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in World Cup Group D.

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