Lionel Messi 'light years' ahead of Diego Maradona - Sergio Ramos

Arnold Nichols
June 21, 2018

While there's still time for the 31-year-old to turn it around, he endured a gutting performance against Iceland by failing to score from 11 shots and missing a crucial penalty.

SAMPAOLI and ACUÑA discussed the team, the players, Lionel MESSI and more. "Leo should not shoulder all the responsibility".

"He's always there to give you an extra element, but he can't be held responsible for the defeat".

For many Argentines, that means while he may be the world's best player now, Messi has not entered the same pantheon as Maradona "El Pibe" (The Kid) who won the 1986 World Cup.

The diminutive Argentine captain known as "La Pulga" (The Flea), has won every club accolade imaginable with Barcelona, but has agonizingly missed out on global trophies both at the World Cup and Copa America. Or at least the last in which he is widely viewed as the game's top player.

"We talked with Leo about his current affairs and not to happen what happened in the previous World Cup, which arrived extremely exhausted", reflected the Argentina boss.

"I think they just respect each other and get on with it". It's a lot of pressure for a single player to stand.

The Barcelona great has often had a turbulent relationship with the Argentine media.

"I will just repeat once again", Rakitic said. "For me, Lionel Messi is the best player of all time". If he had scored the penalty, I would have given him a 6.

Sampaoli called the draw against Iceland "a blow" and said his players were frustrated but added that the team had recovered.

Argentina continue their World Cup campaign with a clash against Croatia on Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of low points with the national side for Messi, who suffered defeat in three major finals between 2014 and 2016, leading him to briefly retire from worldwide duty. The country's last major title was the Copa America in 1993. They also were part of the team that lost the Copa America final against Chile in 2015 and the Copa America Centenario in 2016.

Iceland will next play Nigeria and then Croatia in their remaining two group games. We are convinced that we came here for something. "We realize our window of opportunity is getting smaller by the hour".

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