Saint Petersburg: A relieved Lionel Messi admitted the stress at the prospect of crashing out of the World Cup at the group stages was the worst he had ever experienced after Marcus Rojo’s late strike beat Nigeria 2-1 to send Argentina into the Last 16.
“I don’t remember such suffering,” said Messi when asked if it was the most tense match of his career.
“It was due to the situation and what we were playing for. It is a huge joy for everyone for the difficult days we lived after the last defeat. Luckily we achieved our objective,” he added.
Messi’s quest for World Cup glory faces a much tougher test on Saturday as Argentina face a highly-fancied France side in the last 16. The Barcelona star will come face-to-face with club team-mates Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele and is aware of the improvement needed to make the last eight. “They are a very complete team. They have top players individually. I have teammates I know very well at the back and up front. It will obviously be very difficult,” he added.
Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli said: “A coach who has to train Leo knows that everybody surrounding him needs to make him feel secure.”