Friday 24 May 2019

'It’s a disgrace' - Diego Maradona hits out at Argentina, but leaps to the defence of Lionel Messi

Argentina's Lionel Messi covers his face during the group D match against Iceland
Argentina's Lionel Messi covers his face during the group D match against Iceland
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Diego Maradona has hit out at Argentina’s players following their lacklustre performance in a 1-1 draw against Iceland on Saturday, but he has insisted Lionel Messi should not be blamed for their disappointing start to the World Cup.

Messi’s missed penalty saw the Barcelona star claim a set of unusually negative headlines as he started his latest attempt to win the biggest prize in the sport, yet 1986 World Cup winner Maradona has suggested criticism of Argentina’s star man is misplaced.

The legend who was coach of Argentina at the 2010 World Cup finals has suggested current coach Jorge Sampaoli needs to find a spirit in his side quickly as he suggests there is unrest in the camp.

“I get the feeling there’s an anger at the heart of the team,” stated Maradona, as he suggested Argentina were not fully prepared for the clash with Iceland.

“It’s a disgrace. Not having prepared for the match knowing that Iceland are all 1.90m tall. I don’t blame the players. I could blame the lack of work rate, but I can’t blame the players.”

Maradona also leapt to the defence of Messi, whose surprisingly poor penalty record continued as his spot kick was saved by Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson.

“I missed five penalties on the spin and I was still Diego Armando Maradona. I don’t think that they dropped two points because Messi missed a penalty,” he added.

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