Mascherano: relationship with Sampaoli is 'completely normal'

Argentina team the worst in history says legend Ardiles

Nigeria's win over Iceland on Friday has given them a lifeline, however.

Thre Argentines are facing a group-stage exit in Russian Federation after collecting just one point from their opening two games.

Victory against the Africans, who Argentina have beaten in all four previous World Cup meetings, will secure qualification for the last 16 as long as Iceland don't shock already-qualified Croatia.

"The relationship with the coach is totally normal", said Mascherano, who at 34, is one of the most experienced and influential players in the squad.

"We know the situation is tricky", Mascherano said.

According to the Argentinian media, the coach and players have been at odds over Sampaoli's constant changes in strategy and personnel.

Franco Armani is tipped to replace Willy Caballero for the Nigeria clash after the Chelsea goalkeeper's blunder against Croatia, with Sampaoli also expected to ditch his three-match defence and return to a traditional back four.

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"We think we're going to win all the games, and even if we lose we think we're going to win the next one".

The 2014 runners-up are on the brink of an early World Cup exit in Russian Federation after a shock 3-0 defeat by Croatia.

The Argentine playmaker has enjoyed perhaps the greatest club career possible at FC Barcelona where he is the all-time topscorer and has won every club trophy there is domestically, continentally and globally.

Following Argentina's 0-0 draw with Iceland, Maradona told Venezuelan TV that he could not blame the players and slammed the team's performance as a "disgrace". "It cost us too much to be where we are for Croatia to come and hit us for three goals and to leave with our arms crossed without anyone putting a foot in".

"But there is a guilty party and the culprit is the president of the AFA".

And although Sampaoli has since sought the opinion of his players, Mascherano dismissed reports it was a "revolt".

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