World Cup briefing: Argentina coach takes blame for Lionel Messi form
Egypt deny Mohamed Salah will leave early and England star Raheem Sterling hits out at UK media reporting
Sampaoli begs for forgiveness after losing to Croatia
Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli says he is responsible for Lionel Messi’s struggles at the World Cup after the South Americans were hammered by Croatia in group D.
The Argentines’ 3-0 loss against Croatia followed a 1-1 draw with Iceland, results that have left the two-time winners on the brink of elimination at the group stage.
Messi missed a penalty against Iceland and in the Croatia match he was left a forlorn figure. Speaking after the 3-0 defeat Sampaoli told the BBC: “The reality of the Argentina squad clouds his brilliance. Leo is limited because the team doesn’t gel ideally with him as it should.
“I would beg fans for their forgiveness. I am responsible.”
Argentina are third in the group D standings with one point from two games. Croatia have qualified with two victories and Iceland can join them in the last 16 if they get four points from their final two matches.
Iceland take on Nigeria (today, 4pm) and face Croatia on 26 June. Argentina play Nigeria in their final group D match.
Egypt FA: Salah is staying for Saudi clash
Liverpool star Salah came into the World Cup with an injured shoulder and missed Egypt’s opening 1-0 defeat against Uruguay. Salah played and scored in Egypt’s 3-1 loss to Russia but looked out of sorts against the host nation.
Egypt play a dead rubber against Saudi Arabia in Volgograd on Monday and it was rumoured that Salah had asked to leave before the final group A match.
But writing on Twitter, the Egypt FA said: “Everyone in Egypt is together and there is absolutely no disagreement between us. We respect each other and the relationship is great.”
Sterling: UK media reporting is ‘unbelievable’
England forward Raheem Sterling has hit out at sections of the UK press for their reporting of his off-field life.
Writing on The Players’ Tribune, Sterling said: “You know, it’s sad that I even have to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. There’s a perception in certain parts of the media that I love ‘bling’. I love diamonds. I love to show off. I really don’t understand where that comes from.
“Especially when I bought my mum a house, it was unbelievable what some people were writing. I think it’s really sad that people do that. They hate what they don’t even know.
“If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum.”