Sampaoli frustrated by Argentina stalemate

Lionel Messi had an "uncomfortable" afternoon, according to Jorge Sampaoli, as Argentina was held 1-1 by Iceland.

Published : Jun 16, 2018 22:58 IST

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli failed to hide his frustration after his side was held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland in its World Cup opener on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero put Sampaoli's men ahead after 19 minutes only for Alfred Finnbogason to level four minutes later. And despite long spells of pressure in the second half, and a Lionel Messi penalty that was saved by Iceland's Hannes Halldorsson, Argentina could not find a winner.

Joy was unconfined for Iceland at the final whistle but the hordes of boisterous Argentina fans went away distinctly unimpressed.

Sampaoli said: "We always come to try to win matches, that is clear, that's why there is frustration right now.

"We came very motivated, to win against a team that had a very strong defensive line, that prevented us from capitalising on our superior ball possession.

"We tried to work better in the second half, create more opportunities but what can you do? We are just starting, this squad has the strength to face the next match."

That next match is against Croatia on June 21, a dangerous assignment for the 2014 runner-up, before it rounds off its Group D fixtures against Nigeria in 10 days' time.

Asked if he was considering changes, Sampaoli said: "Every match is different. We need to look at alternative [strategies], the next game will be different so we need to think about what strategy is next.

"This is a tough group."

Argentina appeared to have an over-reliance on Messi for much of the encounter at Spartak Stadium in Moscow and Sampaoli admitted it had been an "uncomfortable" afternoon for the Barcelona superstar.

"To evaluate his work is difficult, because it was an uncomfortable match for him as Iceland were playing very defensively, blocking all possible spaces but he did everything he could for Argentina to win," he said.

"Without analysing the performance of every player… I know Lionel is committed to Argentina going forward."

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