Diego Maradona makes a case for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi after Argentina were bundled out of the World Cup
The 31-year-old wasn’t at his best in Russia and the 57-year-old believes it was due to the coach’s strategy. Maradona insisted that Jorge Sampaoli fielded Messi as a false nine, a position he is not used playing Argentina legend Diego Maradona has faulted Jorge Sampaoli’s tactics for Lionel Messi’s no-show at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Barcelona superstar didn’t score in the game but assisted two of the three goals his side scored after being fielded as a false nine. However, the 1986 World Cup winner expressed his disappointment with his country’s early ouster from the competition. The 57-year-old said the partnership of Messi, Di Maria and Pavon was never going to be a threat to Didier Deschamps men, saying those players don’t know how to mount pressure on the opponent’s defence. “[I feel] bad for another World Cup, in which Argentina didn’t manage to put out a consistent team,” Maradona told Telesur.
“However, it was already seen in the build-up. We knew after we left Moscow that Pavon, Messi and Di María were the ones who were going to attack the French defence, yet I don’t think they know a lot about the box, penalty spot or putting pressure on the centre-backs.” he continued. Maradona further explained that the the trio of Messi, Di Maria and Pavon are not main strikers reasons they were not able to wreck havoc to France defence.
He said that leaving Messi to create passes and still go ahead to score the goal while joining other players to defend was a mere ‘fantasy football’. “Yes, they know how to create, but they’re not strikers. “It seems to me this Argentina team never had that. Pavon’s crosses caused very little problems for the French defence. “Messi? I saw him very isolated, far away from the box. I said that if he played as a No 9 and he had to go looking for the ball, piece the game together, set the goals up and score them, it seemed we were talking more about sheer fantasy than Messi.”
The 31-year-old only scored a goal in this year’s edition of the championship unlike in Brazil four years ago when he scored four goals in seven appearances.