Aguero-Messi relationship a highlight for Sampaoli

Aguero-Messi relationship a highlight for Sampaoli

Messi made himself unavailable for worldwide matches after Argentina suffered a defeat to Chile in the 2016 Copa America final for the second straight time.

Russia's national team hosts on Saturday Lionel Messi and his Argentinean teammates in a friendly game; the game will be the first one to be played at Luzhniki Stadium after its opening.

Taking a U-turn and returning to the Argentina team after retiring past year has left Lionel Messi embarrassed, he admitted.

"There was more vertical play with [Alejandro] "Papu" Gomez next to [Angel] Di Maria, interesting movements between Aguero and Messi, many movements on the wings".

Akinfeev was the hero of the first half as he produced another impressive save after Aguero's powerful shot from just nine yards.

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Sampaoli's side dominated possession but was unable to break through, another excellent stop from Akinfeev low to his right denying Aguero on the stroke of half-time.

Sergio Aguero's header found the back of the net in the 86th minute, the striker beating veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev after his initial shot was blocked by the Russian defence.

Diego Perotti made his first Argentina appearance in over six years and Cristian Pavon was handed a first cap as Sampaoli sought a victor.

The 30-year-old also defended Gonzalo Higuain, who is failing to perform in important tournaments including the 2014 World Cup final.