Previous
Adelaide United
Melbourne Victory
2
2
FT
Game Details
Shandong Luneng Taishan
Liaoning Whowin
2
0
LIVE HT
Game Details
West Ham United
Brighton & Hove Albion
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
France
England
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Schalke 04
Mainz
6:30 PM UTC
Game Details
St Etienne
Montpellier
6:45 PM UTC
Game Details
FC Groningen
Willem II Tilburg
6:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Morelia
León
12:00 AM UTC Oct 21, 2017
Game Details
Atlas
Tijuana
2:00 AM UTC Oct 21, 2017
Game Details
Melbourne City FC
Wellington Phoenix FC
6:35 AM UTC Oct 21, 2017
Game Details
Next
ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi only undisputed starter for Argentina - Jorge Sampaoli

Lionel Messi "is the only undisputed starter" as Argentina face a must-win World Cup qualifier on Aug. 31 against Uruguay, manager Jorge Sampaoli said on Tuesday.

"I have had the good fortune to arrive with the national team at the time that Messi's ban was lifted," Sampaoli said during a news conference on Tuesday. "We have the best player in the world [in Messi]. From him the team is born."

Two-time world champions Argentina are currently fifth in their qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup.

Only the top four sides will qualify directly for the tournament that is to be staged in Russia.

Sampaoli said that he will count on Messi to "shoot to the middle" or "to the right toward the middle" and seek out "players who will help his potential," to defeat Uruguay on their home turf.

"To leave Messi alone at this moment is a mistake. We need to surround him with the best players possible," he said, while acknowledging that "there are no players who have more privilege than others" with the exception of Messi.

He added that he will travel to Paris, Barcelona, Seville and Madrid to speak with various players as he sets up his team for the Uruguay match.

Asked about Javier Mascherano's future with the team, Sampaoli called him "a player with experience who understands the challenge the team face at this moment."

Messi was cleared in May for Argentina's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru after FIFA's Appeal Committee lifted his four-game suspension from international matches.

The 29-year-old was handed the ban retrospectively by world football's governing body in March -- along with a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160) -- after television footage showed him verbally abusing a match official during a qualifier against Chile.

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.