Saturday June 30 2018
‘Can still be Messi’s World Cup’

Argentina legend Diego Maradona believes ‘it can still be Lionel Messi’s World Cup’ but claims the idea of his country managing themselves is ‘outrageous’.

Argentina narrowly set up a last-16 tie with France after a late 2-1 win against Nigeria in their final group game, but much of talk between that game and the knockout tie has revolved around whether Coach Jorge Sampaoli has been sidelined by the growing influence of the dressing room.

“Can it still be Messi’s World Cup? Yes, of course it can,” the former Barcelona star, who captained the Albiceleste to glory in 1986, told Marca.

“This is just the beginning. Now it’s time for the knockouts. No-one can retreat any more, teams have to attack.

“If not, at most, you go to penalties. If you just defend, you’ll end up losing in normal time.

“Argentina-Spain Final? I hope so, and they can if they keep doing what they’re doing, but there’s still a long way to go.

“I have a lot of respect for France, and Spain won’t have an easy time against Russia either. Now’s the time when all the players start their engines. They all dream of winning the World Cup and now they must prove it.

“Are Argentina managing themselves? I don’t think they are, nor do I think it’s possible. If that happened, it would be better not to have a Coach at all…

“For that, you’d let any other leader call players up and select them. I think it’s outrageous.

“Not having a proper leader to make certain decisions wouldn’t be a good thing. You still need experienced players, but even they need a Coach to tell them something, to show them the way.”

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