Featured Matches
Previous
Seattle Sounders FC
Los Angeles
ESPN2 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Richmond Kickers
Crystal Palace
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Norwich City
Nice
5
1
FT
Game Details
Richmond Kickers
Crystal Palace
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Brøndby
Silkeborg IF
2
0
FT
Game Details
AIK
Falkenbergs FF
3
0
FT
Game Details
BK Hacken
Djurgarden
2
1
FT
Game Details
Seattle Sounders FC
Los Angeles
ESPN2 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Tigre
All Boys
(5) 0
(4) 0
FT-Pens
Game Details
Belgrano de Córdoba
Independiente
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Next
 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
Jun 12, 2014

Messi defends Maradona after WC woe

Argentina's superstar may have had an off year by his astronomical standards, but his performances were still enough to land him the number one spot.

Lionel Messi says Argentina's players, not then-coach Diego Maradona, were to blame for their poor showing at the last World Cup.

- Delaney: Messi's Maradona moment
#WorldCupRank: No. 1 Lionel Messi
ESPN FC Bracket Predictor

With the 2014 tournament about to start, current Albiceleste manager Alejandro Sabella is being widely praised for his relaxed mood and tactically astute approach.

Such praise often comes with a comparison to the chaotically disorganised side which was thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the quarterfinals four years ago.

But the Argentina captain told DeporTV, according to AS, that such disparagement of Maradona's management style was unfair and the players should have taken the blame for what happened in South Africa.

"We got on very well, he has his special way of communicating things," Messi said. "Sometimes it is easier to blame the coach than the players, who were the ones truly responsible for the elimination."

Messi, now 26, also said that he still remembered the personal criticism he received in 2006 when Argentina were also eliminated at the quarterfinal stage by Germany and some onlookers suggested the Barcelona-based teenager had not been hurt by the defeat as he was detached from his home country.

"It was nice as my first experience of the tournament, but after being knocked out they were very unfair with me, because the national team had played very well," he said. "They said getting knocked out had not hurt me, and it was not like that."

Ahead of Argentina's opening game in this year's tournament, against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, Messi said he was confident that he and his teammates had learnt from their mistakes during recent finals.

"I am really looking forward to the tournament, I believe I have learned from what I did badly in the previous finals so as not to repeat those mistakes," he said.

"I have no doubts there is a lot of excitement, with a group which is very solid and has not lost for a long time. We lose few games, and when we do it is playing well or not deserving to."

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.