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17th Jun 2018

Argentina legend questions Lionel Messi’s ability to win a World Cup

Messi struggled to break down Iceland's defence on Saturday

Reuben Pinder

Messi is carrying the hopes of a nation

Lionel Messi has been compared to Diego Maradona throughout his entire career. The similarities are almost endless: the diminutive stature, being left-footed, the iconic number 10, the excellent close control. Those similarities end when you look at their international trophies though. Maradona famously carried Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, while it doesn’t look likely to happen for Messi after yesterday’s draw against Iceland.

The current Argentina side rely heavily on Messi to get them out of sticky situations, as shown in the qualifying campaign when the Barcelona star went on a one man mission to secure qualification in Argentina’s final qualifying game by scoring a hat-trick.

But Messi has not been as fortunate as Maradona when it comes to finals. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Argentina reached three consecutive international finals and lost them all.

Argentina legend Hernán Crespo, who also played for Chelsea in the mid-noughties, is not optimistic that Argentina will win the World Cup in the near future.

After the 1-1 draw between Argentina and Iceland on Saturday, Crespo told Gazzetta dello Sport:

“Let’s start with a fact: Messi deserves a five [for his performance].”

He continued, explaining that the people of Argentina shouldn’t expect Messi to do what Maradona did.

“Of course, we expect more from him, but Messi is not Maradona, alone he does not win a World Cup.

“This must be understood first by all Argentinians, and then by his team-mates.

“He is a phenomenon if he is put in the right conditions, like in Barcelona. Otherwise he is struggling.”

Crespo also acknowledged that Messi does not receive enough help in the Argentina side, which makes it too easy for the opposition to stifle their attack.

“But tell me: who helped him against Iceland? [Angel] Di Maria did not get past his opponent once, the midfielders did not support him.”