Javier Mascherano has denied claims of a rift in the Argentina camp between Jorge Sampaoli and his players, insisting that the relationship with the manager is “completely normal”.
Relations in the Albiceleste dressing room were said to be at breaking point after drawing 1-1 with Iceland and losing 3-0 to Croatia in their opening two World Cup games.
Sampaoli was heavily criticised on the back of the latter of those results, leading to talk that he would be sacked prior to Tuesday evening’s crucial clash with Nigeria, which Argentina have to win if they are to have any hope of progressing.
Mascherano says that relations are not strained, though, telling reporters ahead of the match in Saint Petersburg: “The relationship with the coach is completely normal.
“Obviously, when we feel uncomfortable about something we speak with him because if we didn’t we would be hypocrites. We know the situation is tricky. We have to be united, to express our opinions, and do everything possible so the team goes into the game in the best position.”
Argentina failed to win either of their opening two group-stage matches at the World Cup for the first time since 1974.