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Challenges facing Argentina ahead of their must-win group game against Nigeria

WORLD CUP 2018 By Mirror | June 24th 2018
Jorge Sampaoli has come in for severe criticism following the 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Thursday

Sergio Aguero is set to be axed by Argentina for their must-win group game against Nigeria on Tuesday.

The Manchester City striker is one of several players to have declared war on beleaguered coach Jorge Sampaoli following the 1-1 draw with Iceland and the 3-0 drubbing by Croatia.

But Sampaoli has won his battle to remain as manager in Russia after a dressing room mutiny failed.

And Aguero looks likely to pay the price for his role in the row by being left on the bench for the clash with Nigeria in St Petersburg.

City's all-time leading goalscorer started the tournament with a bang, scoring a brilliant goal against Iceland, but he was substituted in the humiliation by Croatia that left Sampaoli's future in the balance.

It is understood that several players approached Argentine FA president Claudio Tapia to ask that Sampaoli be either sacked or give them a voice in team selection.

But Tapia has backed his manager – and Aguero will be replaced in the team by Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Sampaoli has also axed Chelsea back-up keeper Willy Caballero following mistakes in both games and will be replaced by Franco Armani even though the 31-year-old will be winning his first cap.

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Former Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega also come in, with Marcos Acuna and Enzo Perez dropping out.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone summed up the mood in the Argentina camp in a leaked audio of a conversation.

He said: “The team is lost. What's happening to the team right now is what has happened to Argentina in these last four disgraceful years: anarchy, no leadership from the players, coaches or directors.”

Nigeria sit second in the group after beating Iceland 2-0 and just a draw might be enough to take them through on goal difference.

Boss Gernot Rohr, who guided his team to a 4-2 friendly win over Argentina last November, said: “We know we can do it, our confidence is coming back.”

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