Sports

Stop blaming Messi for Argentina's defeats, says Sampaoli

Stop blaming Messi for Argentina's defeats, says Sampaoli

Time is running out for Lionel Messi to bring Argentina a Soccer World Cup, which would give him the one thing that's missing from a career that ranks among the greatest. "[Angel] Di Maria did not beat his opponent once, the midfielders did not support him".

Lionel Messi will be acutely aware that this could be his final chance to win the World Cup.

Argentina's Lionel Messi misses a penalty.

In comparison, Iceland has a population of around 337,000, ranks 22nd in the world and is appearing in the World Cup for the first time.

He was convinced to perform a U-turn on his initial decision ahead of Argentina's 2018 World Cup qualification campaign and the South American nation wouldn't have made it to Russian Federation without him. Fortunately people love him and transmit that to him and he values that a lot.

"But tell me: who helped him against Iceland? I told him to do what he knows, to play just as if he was playing when he started out with Grandoli".

But it became harder in the 64th minute of Argentina's opener when his tame penalty was saved by Iceland's goalkeeper - watched inevitably by Maradona who had lapped up adoring cries of "Dieeeeego!" beforehand. Yes, we have lost three finals in recent years, but we reached three finals and that was a good achievement.

More news: VAR gives France penalty vs. Australia

Messi arrived at the last World Cup finals in Brazil suffering from fatigue after a season of high-octane action with Barcelona and Sampaoli staged a meeting with his skipper last January to try and avoid a repeat.

Messi's status as one of the greatest players to have played the game has long since been assured, yet the critics argue that he needs worldwide glory to cement his position.

Perhaps, in future, we can make it to being among the best in Asia and qualify for the World Cup.

"Football, the World Cup, would not be the same without Messi".

As Crespo said, Messi may deserve to win a World Cup, but unfortunately that doesn't factor into sports.

"Messi can't be the only guilty one".


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