We can limit 'outstanding' Messi, says France coach Deschamps

Francia pendiente de Messi Dinamarca se las verá con Croacia en octavos

But with Portuguese rival Cristiano Ronaldo racing ahead in the scoring charts on four goals so far, and England's Harry Kane on five goals in just two matches, Messi risks finishing this World Cup with a whimper.

After Argentina's victory over Nigeria, Sampaoli headed to the dressing room without celebrating alongside his players, but Lionel Messi went over to hug his coach before he departed in a show of unity with the under-fire manager.

The Round of 16 matches will kick-off at 10 a.m. eastern time when Argentina is scheduled to take on France. "You only have to look at his statistics - 65 goals from 127 matches - to know everything".

"I'm sure they have a plan to neutralise Messi, but we have our own plan to make it easier for him".

Sampaoli was unstinting in his praise of Messi, describing him as "the best player in the world" and a "genius", but preferred to focus more on the display he expected from his whole team on Saturday.

Deschamps said full back Benjamin Mendy had been ruled out with a "small muscle injury".

Les Bleus topped Group C, despite a dour 0-0 draw with second-place Denmark in the third match, and the pressure is on to greatly improve against Argentina.

One state of affairs seemingly stuck on an eternal loop is France's inability to get the most from a wealth of talent that, now Germany have departed, is rivalled only by Spain for depth.

It might then be a matter of who reaches its best first between France and Argentina, and Griezmann is confident he will impress. All eyes on Saturday will be on Messi, who is playing his fourth World Cup and is still eyeing his maiden major trophy with his country.

"Kylian has huge quality and potential, he's fast, explosive, he needs space and I think tomorrow he will get more than he did in the first three matches", added Lloris.

France's team, whose average age is 25, will be looking to awake from their recent slumber and Sampaoli, whose side's average age is 30, underlined the danger of allowing the France to dictate play.

"France are known for being fast, their solid passing and moving quickly from defence to attack, and we can't let them use their speed against us", he said.

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