Messi 'not guilty of anything', insists Maradona

Posted June 26, 2018

Argentina´s forward Lionel Messi (C) practices during a training session at the team´s base camp in Bronnitsy, on June 23, 2018, during Russian Federation 2018 World Cup. Argentina, weakened by injuries to Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero, fell in the final to Germany, 1-0, on an overtime goal. Time to live up to his reputation as one of the world's best players.

One thing there isn't time for is celebration. It's part of a disappointing worldwide run in which Messi's only medal with Argentina came 10 years ago at the Summer Olympics. Spain won the 2010 World Cup after losing to Switzerland in its first game. Morocco attacked Portugal relentlessly in the second half in Moscow after Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with an early header. So has Belgium's Romelu Lukaku.

For Argentina to pull that off, Messi's teammates need to take the pressure off Messi.

So far in Russia, Messi has been held scoreless.

The criticism back home has been ruthless.

Coach Jorge Sampaoli was roundly criticised for his approach against Croatia, sparking rumours the 58-year-old would be sacked during the tournament. But that did not stop Lionel Messi from celebrating his birthday.

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The 1986 World Cup victor described himself as "furious and upset" and lashed out at the Argentina Football Association President Claudio Tapia as the "guilty party" after Thursday's result. "We have to take on board what happened to us, the point where we are now and we have to be aware tomorrow is the first of five matches that will take us to the final".

Considering he will be 35 at the next tournament, this may be his last chance. "The structure of the game didn't favor him".

The Barcelona star missed a penalty in Argentina's opening game against Iceland, and did not get into the game at all in the embarrassing Croatia defeat. Messi will touch the ball a lot more.

Kane celebrates after bagging a hat-trick.

Preferably on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg.

The two results now put Argentina in a precarious situation. It would make millions of Argentine's in the world happy.

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Mascherano told reporters: "The relationship with the coach is completely normal".

Tension has been evident at practice, too.

Here si how Messi's wife wished him. Goalkeeper Munir al-Kajoui agreed that the team had been unlucky in their two games so far. They have had two really good performances. He scored the winning goals against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iran (in the last minute) in group play and struck twice in the 3-2 win over Nigeria in the round of 16.

Rohr was hailed as shrew tactician after making key positional changes that directly influenced the 2-0 win against Iceland on Friday.

And ahead of Argentina facing Nigeria, Maradona has issued a rousing message to Messi.

Then, it will be down to him to do the rest.

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