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Maradona defends Messi after penalty miss

Maradona defends Messi after Argentine's penalty miss in Iceland draw

June 18, 2018 By Ali M.
The Argentina captain received heavy criticism after missing a spot-kick which could have helped La Albiceleste win their opening World Cup game.

Lionel Messi's penalty miss and disappointing performance in the 1-1 draw with Iceland remains a huge topic in football. Despite playing a nation that had never played at the World Cup before, La Albiceleste failed to beat Strákarnir okkar in a historic 1-1 tie.

La Pulga, who was his country's star of the group stage in the 2014 edition, had 11 shots but could not find the back of the net. Things got worse in the second-half when the 30-year-old saw his spot-kick attempt saved, missing a golden opportunity to win the game.

This garnered heavy criticism for the Barcelona icon, with many drawing comparisons with how hat-trick Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up for his national side in their tough clash with Spain. However, Diego Maradona has made an argument in favor of Argentina's captain.

The retired South American legend leaped to Leo's defense, claiming that his penalty miss was not the main reason for their country's disappointing draw. The 57-year-old reminded all the critics that even footballing legends miss from the spot.

"I missed five penalties in a row and I was still Diego Armando Maradona," the legend told Telesur, as per Goal

"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." 

The opening game for Sampaoli's side highlighted a worrying issue that has plagued the two-time World Cup champion for too long: their over-dependence on Messi. The Spanish Primera Division superstar had single-handedly led the nation to Russia after a rocky qualifying round but things have not yet turned around for the South American side.

However, Maradona is adamant that things will only get better for the 2014 runner-up, saying: "we still believe in God and that we can improve." However, Argentina's next game is against Croatia, and failure to win will leave them with a single point and in danger of crashing out in the group stage.

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