Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi is 60% of the Argentina team

Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi is 60% of the Argentina team

FIFA World Cup victor and Argentine legend, Diego Maradona, has said Jorge Sampaoli has Lionel Messi to thank for covering up all the Argentina lapses.

Argentina are among the favourites to lift the title having reached the final in 2014, but Maradona is concerned the team no longer command respect from opposing teams like in the past.

"We have no midfield deserving of the name", Maradona lamented to El Popular. Unfortunately they are always afraid to say it.

"Today, except for Lionel Messi teams don't fear Argentina again". Look at the last game with Nigeria. You know what happened in my time in a game like that. But Sampaoli is lucky.

"If he hits top form in Russian Federation, then we have 60 percent of becoming the champion with others complementing his effort".

Maradona, who inspired his country to a World Cup triumph in 1986, has offered a withering assessment of the set-up and is particularly concerned about their midfield options ahead of the tournament in Russian Federation.

Argentina struggled during the South American zone 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament and only secured a ticket to Russian Federation in the last match against Ecuador with a Lionel Messi-inspired 3-1 victory in Quito. Because the others can make up the choir, but they can never replace him as the singer. It hurts me a lot, but the reality is that it's going badly for us, and I can't see a way out.

"It's embarrassing to rely on Icardi". "That guy (Sampaoli) doesn't know anything". What he does know is to go to his friend's house and "eat out". "Pipa has to have a new chance", he added.

Maradona said of Tevez: "Of course [he should be recalled]". "We don't have anything else".

"For example, he does not have a number nine that can score on his list, even though he can continue calling up that embarrassment (Icardi)".

Argentina have been drawn in Group D for the June 14-July 15 tournament alongside Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia.

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