Diego Maradona has launched a scathing attack on Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli for expecting ‘sheer fantasy’ from Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
Messi started Saturday’s World Cup last-16 tie with France as a false nine, before dropping deeper as the game went on, and Maradona took aim at Sampaoli for expecting his fellow superstar to do everything after Argentina were eliminated, courtesy of a 4-3 defeat.
“[I feel] bad about another World Cup, in which Argentina didn’t manage to put out a consistent team,” the Mexico 1986 winner 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.
“Yes, they know how to create, but they’re not strikers.
“I think we went to the cinema more than the field because we came to see the chronicle of a death foretold.
“It’s true because Argentina inadvertently went out to attack France but made the mistake of leaving a lot of room for Mbappe.
“Their first goal? It’s Rojo‘s fault. He didn’t foul him away from the box. He let him enter the area and then took him down, something that an international player mustn’t do.
“We don’t know how to attack, we don’t know what to do when we have the ball, whereas France, on the contrary, have variants. They have outlets on the counter, options on the right…
“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 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.”