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Diego Maradona gives his honest views about Lionel Messi’s performance v Iceland

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Lionel Messi endured a hugely frustrating start to his 2018 World Cup campaign on Saturday afternoon.

The Argentina superstar, regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time, failed to his inspire his country to all three points in their opening match against Iceland.

Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock in the 19th minute with an unerring finish before Alfred Finnbogason stunned the 2014 World Cup finalists by equalising shortly afterwards.

Iceland defended resolutely and gave their star-studded opponents virtually no space to operate in their half of the pitch.

It was a hugely impressive team performance from a country with a population of just 330,000 people.

Messi, however, was presented with a golden opportunity to win the game just after the hour-mark.

Referee Szymon Marciniak awarded the South American nation a penalty and Messi, whose record from 12 yards leaves a lot to be desired, failed to convert past Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson.

Messi was one a one-man mission

Messi, desperate to make amends, attempted to win the match almost single-handedly during the closing stages of the game.

The Barcelona icon had dragged his country to the World Cup during qualification - the Albiceleste wouldn’t have qualified for this summer’s tournament without him - and because of the team’s over-reliance on the world-class forward for inspiration, he presumably felt he needed to do it all himself.

In total, Messi had 11 shots against Iceland - the most attempts at goal he’s ever had in a World Cup match.

Some people have accused the 30-year-old of being too selfish during the closing stages of the match.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH7-ARG-ISL

Maradona drops the truth about Messi's performance

That Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick for Portugal against Spain the night before ramped up the expectation on Messi but, surprisingly, he failed to deliver on this occasion.

However, Argentina legend Diego Maradona - who inspired his country to glory at the 1986 World Cup finals - has made some excellent points about his compatriot in the aftermath of the match.

Argentina v Iceland: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The 57-year-old, who coached Messi at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, believes that Messi - perhaps unlike some of his teammates - at least showed up at the Otkritie Arena in Moscow.

Maradona sympathises with Messi and can understand why he tried to take matters into his own hands during the final 20 minutes.

He also refused to blame the draw on Messi for missing the penalty.

“I missed five penalties in a row and I was still Diego Armando Maradona,” he told Telesur, per the Daily Mail.

“The game and the two points lost by the team are not down to his penalty.

“He showed his face and gave everything he had to give. The "kid" did his duty.

“Seeing him on the field, he was pretty pissed off. Just like I would have been. It was all him, he always had to shrug two players off and when he did, there was no pass open.”

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH7-ARG-ISL

Well said, Diego.

Messi may have missed the penalty but he was still Argentina’s best player in this match; the only man who looked capable to producing the moment of magic to break Iceland down.

Don’t write him off just yet.

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Topics:
Football
Iceland Football
Argentina Football
Barcelona
Lionel Messi
World Cup

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