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

21 June, 2018, 18:44 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli at the touchline in a past match

"I still think we can improve in all aspects".

Messi was widely criticized by his home country's media after missing a penalty kick 63 minutes into Argentina's 1-1 draw with Iceland on Saturday. "For me, Lionel Messi is the best player of all time".

While much has been made of Argentina's over-dependence on their out-and-out star, who turns 31 this weekend and may well be at his last World Cup, Sampaoli said fortunately the obsession with Messi also destabilised others.

He added: "When we succeed with Argentina, everyone takes credit for it but when Argentina loses, it's always Leo's fault". That slip has piled the pressure on Argentina to win the second game against Croatia, which defeated Nigeria 2-0 in its opener.

After all, Argentina's presence in this World Cup can be credited primarily to the great Messi, with a chaotic qualifying campaign that produced some starling statistics to highlight the influence of their iconic No.10. "And I hope he will continue playing for as long as he wants and for as long as his health allows him to". "For me, Lionel Messi is the best player of all time. I respect this Croatian generation a lot".

Sampaoli admitted Argentina's "window of opportunity" was narrowing after the draw but said he was confident his team could put things right.

But if he does fail again in Russian Federation, there will be sympathy from fellow professionals who feel team mates and chaotic national authorities let him down, while fickle fans forget he is still Argentina's top scorer.

Speaking about the day he won the World Cup with Argentina back in 1978, Kempes said it was a moment he will never forget.

It's hard to believe, but Argentina has not won a major title since taking the Copa America - the South American championship - in 1993. More recently, the Argentines lost in the last two Copa America finals, in 2015 and 2016.

Rojo, Biglia and Di Maria are part of a group of eight players who were part of the Argentina team that finished as runner-ups in 2014 in Brazil.

"We need to move on to the next phase, that's what we came here for", he said.



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