Koeman hopes his new-look Barcelona convinces Messi to stay

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BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi: A friendly chat with Kylian Mbappe. A quick hug with Mauricio Pochettino. A kiss on the forehead from Angel Di Maria.

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The signs were all there at Parc des Princes for paranoid Barcelona fans who fear Lionel Messi will follow the path of Neymar and bolt for Paris Saint-Germain once the season ends.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, however, is confident that he has done all he can to convince Messi to continue his career with the Spanish club, despite another disappointing Champions League campaign.

“Leo has to decide his future, nobody can help him do that, (but) I think that he has seen for some time now that this team is on the right track and has a future. I don’t think that he can use that as a reason not to stay,” Koeman said after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at PSG eliminated Barcelona from the competition.

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Koeman, who instead of titles promised a rejuvenation of the team when he took over last year, has Barcelona playing well again. The team fought back to beat Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semifinals last week and has closed the gap on Spanish league leader Atletico Madrid to six points.

Barcelona is unbeaten in 16 league games – with 13 wins and three draws – before it hosts last-place Huesca on Monday. Atletico visits Getafe on Saturday.

For Messi, who scored a fantastic goal in Paris and had a penalty saved by Keylor Navas, the elimination will go down as yet a another painful exit from the tournament that he last won, for a fourth time, in 2015.

Since then, Barcelona has faced several lopsided losses in the knockout rounds. The humiliating 8-2 debacle against Bayern Munich last season prompted Messi to say he wanted to leave the club he has been a part of for two decades. Since then, he has kept quiet about his plans, except to say that he will decide when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Swayed by his past relationship with Messi, Joan Laporta was elected as president again last weekend by club members. Laporta claimed he was the best man to talk Messi into remaining at the Camp Nou.

But until Messi actually signs a new deal, all eyes will be on possible suitors. And PSG is a leading candidate since it is one of a handful of clubs that could possibly afford a player who currently makes 138 million euros ($167 million) per season.

Pochettino, the PSG coach, said his hug with Messi after Wednesday’s match was “just to say hello” to a player who he coached against when he was at Espanyol. Di Maria, who pecked Messi on the head after the final whistle, is a teammate on Argentina’s national team.

While Mbappe’s future is also in doubt with his contract set to expire, Neymar could be a lure for Messi. Neymar, whose contract is also up after the season, has repeatedly said he would love to remake the partnership he shared with Messi at Barcelona.

But Koeman hopes he can offer Messi a team on the up thanks to his bold moves to remake a squad that had once won it all, only to slowly lose its competitiveness in Europe. Out went Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic last offseason, and in came 18-year-olds Pedri Gonzalez, Ansu Fati and Ilaix Moriba, among other promising talents.

For Koeman, the main thing that Barcelona lacked against PSG was the finishing touch provided by Mbappe, who scored four goals in the aggregate 5-2 victory.

“I think everyone can be proud of the image we have shown,” Koeman said. “Once again this team showed that it has a great future.”

Now the question is whether pride and promise are enough for Messi, now 33, to stay put.

Poland vs Argentina, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Poland and Argentina surely didn’t plan to reach the marquee match of World Cup Group C with their knockout round status in doubt, but it’s been that kind of tournament in Qatar.

Poland remains unbeaten in Qatar after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in Al Rayyan, adding to the point it earned from a scoreless draw with Mexico In Doha to give it top billing in the group heading into Wednesday’s match.

STREAM LIVE POLAND v ARGENTINA

Argentina, meanwhile, rebounded from a 2-1 tournament-opening loss to Saudi Arabia In Lusail to bear Mexico 2-0 behind a goal and an assist from Lionel Messi.

Saudi Arabia’s three points means it can still advance with a win over Mexico, who itself can add to its one point. So everyone’s alive in Group C.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Poland vs Argentina.


How to watch Poland vs Argentina live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday, Nov. 30
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The storyline for every Argentina game this tournament from this point forward — and really since the lead-up to the Mexico match — is that any loss means the end of Lionel Messi’s World Cup career (at least according to the living legend). The Albiceleste would be thrilled to get something more out of Lautaro Martinez, while Paulo Dybala’s yet to make his tournament debut.

Robert Lewandowski finally has a World Cup goal on his resume, while Piotr Zielinski has been very good for Poland. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sensational in the win over Saudi Arabia.


Poland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 26
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Key players: Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Piotr Zielinski

Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Australia upsets Denmark as stunning Socceroos reach last 16

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Australia beat Denmark to pull off a huge upset as the Socceroos advanced from Group D and are in the last 16 of the World Cup for just the second time in their history.

WATCH FULL REPLAY

Matthew Leckie was the hero for Australia as he struck in the second half, just moments after Tunisia had taken the lead against France in the other Group D game which mean that Australia were out of the World Cup. For about two minutes they were, but then Leckie did the business.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

For Denmark this was an extremely disappointing World Cup as the team ranked No. 10 in the world scored just once and picked up just one point from their three group stage games.

Australia’s boss Graham Arnold and his players celebrated wildly at the final whistle as they were one of the rank outsiders at this tournament but back-to-back 1-0 wins against Tunisia and Denmark put them into the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Group D standings, schedule, scores ]


Stars of the show

Matthew Leckie: Scored the winning goal with the main piece of quality shown throughout the game by both teams. What a moment in Australia soccer history.

Harry Souttar: Another dominant display from the center back and he’s having a wonderful tournament.


How to watch Australia vs Denmark live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Wednesday, November 30
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Australia will set up exactly the same as they did against Tunisia as they will whip in balls to Mitchell Duke who was the hero with his superb flicked header. Both Duke and Arnold pointed to the ‘Aussie Spirit’ getting them the win against Tunisia and there is a real grit and determination about this team.

Denmark know they have to win, so they will go for a more attack-minded lineup and they have the quality to beat Australia. They start Braithwaite in attack as they try to get something going offensively and this is basically a knockout game in the group stage.


Australia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 38
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from AFC via the intercontinental playoffs
Coach: Graham Arnold
Key players: Mathew Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie

Denmark quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 10
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group F)
Coach: Kasper Hjulmand
Key players: Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Christian Eriksen


Saudi Arabia vs Mexico, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Mexico needs a win to have hope of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds, while Saudi Arabia’s hopes of the final 16 may require the same at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.

The Saudis stunned Argentina 2-1 In Lusail to open the tournament but could not repeat the feat against Poland at Education City in Al Rayyan on Saturday to leave themselves with three points through two matches.

STREAM LIVE SAUDI ARABIA vs MEXICO

Mexico remains without a win after their scoreless draw versus Poland led to a Lionel Messi-inspired loss to Argentina In Lusail.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Saudi Arabia vs Mexico.


How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Tunisia vs France, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Tunisia need a win and help as they clash with reigning World Cup champions France in their Group D finale.

STREAM LIVE TUNISIA v FRANCE

With France already through to the last 16 of the World Cup courtesy of their two wins so far against Australia and Denmark, Didier Deschamps may rest a few key players for this game. That will give Tunisia hope and after their 0-0 draw against Denmark and their narrow 1-0 defeat to Australia, they’ve been in both games but just can’t find that finishing touch in the final third.

[ MORE: Group D standings, schedule, scores ]

France have an abundance of talent, and that’s just on their bench. Despite losing Nkunku, Benzema, Pogba and Kante to injury before the tournament kicked off, it hasn’t really impacted them as they’ve made light work of their opening two group games. Kylian Mbappe was the difference against Denmark and he already has three goals at this tournament to be the joint top scorer.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Tunisia vs France.


How to watch Tunisia vs France live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Wednesday, November 30
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Tunisia need to take more risks in attack and this is all or nothing for them now. They need to win and hope that Australia against Denmark ends in a draw as they have the upperhand over Australia when it comes to goal difference. If they win and Denmark win it will also go down to goal difference to see if they reach the last 16. Khazri starts this game to give them extra quality in attack.

France now have the luxury of resting some of their key players ahead of the last 16 but Deschamps will be keen to make it three wins from three in the group stage to keep momentum going. Camavinga, Mandanda, Guendouzi and Camavinga all start. France just need a point to guarantee top spot in the group but in reality their huge advantage in goal difference over Australia (6 goals better off) means they’ve already won the group.


Tunisia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 30
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified via CAF playoffs (Beat Mali)
Coach: Jalel Kadri
Key players: Ferjani Sassi, Wahbi Khazri, Youssef Msakni

France quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema