By James Agberebi
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has described his side’s ouster from this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia as painful while admitting that the team was built to help captain Lionel Messi create moments of magic which eventually didn’t work out.
After scrapping through into the round of 16, Argentina eventually bowed out after narrowly losing 4-3 to France in Saturday’s thriller.
Goals from Angel Di Maria, Gabriel Marcado and Sergio Aguero were not enough as Kylian Mbappe’ s brace, and goals from Benjamin Pavard and Antoine Griezmann secured France their first ever World Cup win against Argentina in three meetings.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the former Sevilla boss however praised his players for putting up a fight.
“This is very painful, especially because the players have made a huge effort. It was a very difficult game but we have not achieved our goal here in Russia. I’m sad, I’m frustrated – I think that’s quite normal. For me, the fact of being here and being able to be here means I won’t decide my future today.”
Sampaoli stated they did everything possible to give Lionel Messi the chance to make something happen for them.
“I think that we adapted to necessity, rather than having a clear idea. We had a clear need and we had to win, that was our main goal. That was maybe stronger than our football concept. We have the best player in the world and we had to try to create collective situations to really use that player who can have many brilliant moments.
“We tried many different tactics, surround him, create space for him, so we tried to use everything we had to allow him to do what he can do. Sometimes we managed it, sometimes we didn’t.
“[The players] fought until the end and they nearly equalised at the end and that’s what I really, really value. They worked very hard and I want to say thank you.”