Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli described his side's elimination from the World Cup as "painful" and revealed that his team was built to try and help superstar Lionel Messi build moments of magic, but that strategy ultimately failed.
La Albiceleste lost to France 4-3 in Kazan, done in by a sensational brace from Kylian Mbappe as well as a penalty by Antoine Griezmann and a goal by Benjamin Pavard. Angel Di Maria, Gabriel Marcado and Sergio Aguero all scored for Argentina, but it was not enough.
Sampaoli calls loss "very painful"
The former Sevilla boss said the defeat "is very painful, especially because the players have made a huge effort. It was a very difficult game but we have not achieved our goal here in Russia. I’m sad, I’m frustrated – I think that’s quite normal.".
He praised his players, saying “[the players] fought until the end and they nearly equalised at the end and that’s what I really, really value. They worked very hard and I want to say thank you.”
Rumors have been swirling around the future of the 58-year old as manager of the national team, but he refused to address the issue so close after the loss: "For me, the fact of being here and being able to be here means I won’t decide my future today.”
Argentina boss says side lacked "clear idea", tried everything to help Messi
Sampaoli remarked that his squad "adapted to necessity, rather than having a clear idea. We had a clear need and we had to win, that was our main goal. That was maybe stronger than our football concept."
He noted that "we have the best player in the world and we had to try to create collective situations to really use that player who can have many brilliant moments.
“We tried many different tactics, surround him, create space for him, so we tried to use everything we had to allow him to do what he can do. Sometimes we managed it, sometimes we didn’t".