Maradona to meet Argentina players ahead of Eagles clash

25 Juin, 2018, 21:06 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion

Speaking about Lionel Messi, who has come under severe scrutiny during this World Cup for supposedly not stepping up when needed, Mascherano defended his former Barcelona teammate.

However, bouncing back will take a huge improvement in performance and strength of character so far unseen from the two-time world champions in Russian Federation.

"He is a unique player, who unfortunately hasn't won the three finals he has played with Argentina and that isn't easy". It was the South American nation's biggest defeat in the group stages of the World Cup since 1958, when they lost 1-6 to Czechoslovakia.

For all his heroics with Barcelona at club level, Messi is still often compared unfavourably in his homeland for his inability to recreate Maradona's success for the national team. The World Cup finals in 2014 were set for Messi's home continent of South America and represented the ideal stage for the little master to cement his legacy as one of, if not the greatest player of all time.

Portugal have taken four points from their opening two matches of the World Cup, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain in their opening match before scraping to a 1-0 victory over Morocco on Wednesday.

Whereas Ronaldo netted a hat-trick in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain before scoring their victor against Morocco, Messi has floundered in front of goal - missing a penalty against Iceland before putting in an underwhelming display in Nizhny Novgorod.

Without the five-time World Player of the Year, though, it is highly unlikely Argentina would even have qualified.

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Tapia was at a news conference on Sunday with midfielder Javier Mascherano, who denied there was a rift between Sampaoli and the players.

"He's human and he has his own frustrations but he's desperate to turn the situation around".

Mario Kempes, a 1978 World Cup victor with Argentina and analyst for ESPN, tweeted: "The spectacle was shameful and the farewell is increasingly closer!"

Despite Nigeria giving them a knockout stage lifeline with their 2-0 defeat of Iceland, Paddy Power ambassador Petit said that he is disappointed with Argentina so far.

"It's not a case of a miracle [for Argentina to qualify], but that the players can trust the coach", he said.

The sculpture is complete with the light blue and white kit of Argentina, and Messi is also seen with his lower right arm tattooed, as in real life.

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