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Sampaoli leaves his post as Argentina manager


The 2018 World Cup body count has risen.

Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has been relieved of his duties after he oversaw their departure in the Round of 16 with a loss to France. According to multiple reports, first by Hernan Castillo of TNT Sports, the decision was made after Sampaoli met with Argentina FA chief Claudio Tapia on Sunday.

Sampaoli began as Argentina manager only last June with the team struggling in World Cup qualification. He saw them qualify in the final guaranteed CONMEBOL spot with three draws and a win in his four matches in charge, but the team was far from solid.

[ MORE: Sampaoli is this World Cup’s biggest group stage loser ]

The World Cup for Argentina was a disaster, and Sampaoli was at the heart of their failures. Lionel Messi was left on an island for nearly the entire tournament, and Sampaoli had no answers, chopping and changing the starting lineup hoping that something would stick. He took numerous tactical risks, and changed things significantly with each game.

The results spoke for themselves. After an opening round draw with Iceland where the Argentina attack was almost completely stifled, they were comprehensively walloped by Luka Modric and Croatia. With qualification on the line, they required a late winner from defender Marcos Rojo to save them from group stage elimination. Still, they were overwhelmed by France in the Round of 16, beaten 4-3 in a game where the scoreline flattered them somewhat.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

After the loss to France, Sampaoli admitted he wasn’t able to support Messi with the help he needed. “On a personal level it is a great frustration,” Sampaoli said. “We had the best player in the world and we tried to put him in a position to score. We tried to surround him with the right players to take advantage of that talent, it is a talent that no other team has.”

While Sampaoli will still be a highly coveted manager thanks to his success with Chile, his most recent stops at Sevilla and with Argentina will give some prospective employers reason to consider other options.

Sampaoli is the second manager to depart his post after defeat in the 2018 World Cup, following Egypt boss Hector Cuper.

France tops Argentina behind Mbappe brilliance

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La Albiceleste had everything going their way early in the second half, but a quick flip of the switch turned the tides in favor of their European foe.

France topped Argentina, 4-3, in Kazan on Saturday behind a second-half Kylian Mbappe brace.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

The Monaco man was dangerous throughout the match, and played an important role in three of the four French goals.

Les Bleus took the lead after 13 minutes when Antoine Griezmann stepped up at the penalty spot and buried the game’s opener.

The chance came just a minute after Mbappe made a striding run through the Argentina backline and was taken down by Marcos Rojo in the area.

With both sides aiming to get ahold of the match before the halftime break, Angel di Maria gave La Albiceleste a moment of brilliance in the 41st minute with a long-range strike that beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

The goal is Di Maria’s second-career World Cup finish, after previously scoring in 2014 against Switzerland.

The second half kept the pace at a maximum, with Argentina taking the lead less than three minutes after the halftime whistle.

Lionel Messi gathered the ball after a corner kick, before firing a shot towards a goal that was deflected in by teammate Gabriel Mercado.

That lead was short-lived though, with right back Benjamin Pavard firing a shot into the top-left corner off of a cross from the left wing.

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Pavard’s effort was followed by Mbappe scoring his side’s third and fourth goals of the match to restore the France lead.

Second-half substitute Sergio Aguero pulled a goal back in stoppage time for Argentina with a brilliant near-post header, but it was too late for the CONMEBOL side to complete a comeback,

France will now progress to face the winner of Saturday’s Round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal.

Video: Di Maria smashes Argentina level before halftime

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Angel di Maria has given Argentina life heading into halftime after blasting a scorcher from distance against France.

The two sides are level at 1-1 at the break, following the Paris Saint-Germain attacker’s strike in the 41st minute.

Following a throw-in, Nicolas Tagliafico centered the ball for Di Maria nearly 30 yards out, before smashing a long-distance shot into the side netting past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Video: Mbappe burst, Griezmann PK gives France early lead

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Argentina’s hopes of reaching the quarterfinals took a hit early on against France, after Antoine Griezmann converted from the penalty spot on Saturday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

The Atletico Madrid man scored his second goal of the 2018 World Cup in the 13th minute, following a tremendous individual run from Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe.

The 19-year-old picked up the ball in his own half of the pitch, before carrying it all the way through the Argentine penalty area and being taken down by Marcos Rojo.

VIDEO: Ten best goals of the World Cup group stage

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We’re sure we’re missing some, and goodness knows we didn’t spend a terrible amount of time determining the order, so feel free to marvel at these 10 beautiful goals of the World Cup group stage and then tell us which ones we missed and which ones we sorted poorly.

[ MORE: Top 20 players of the World Cup group stage ]

We know Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj, and Marcos Rojo won’t be jazzed with their omissions. Who else is missing?

10. Coutinho to Paulinho versus Serbia

9. Cheryshev’s cheeky chop

8. Diego Costa dances his way to glory

7. Golovin’s nasty free kick

6. Cristiano Ronaldo’s nastier free kick

5. Ricardo Quaresma sneaks a snappy goal before halftime

4. Philippe Coutinho‘s beauty against Switzerland

3. Wizardry from the unlikely boot of Nacho

2. Banega to Messi: Touch, touch, boom.

1. Kroos. Few words needed.