Messi is better than Maradona, claims Real Madrid captain

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli at the touchline in a past match

"It was an uncomfortable match for us because Iceland were playing very defensively and doing everything to stop us and especially Leo", reflected Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli. "Of course, we expect more from him, but Messi is not [Diego] Maradona, alone he does not win a World Cup".

While there's still time for the 31-year-old to turn it around, he endured a gutting performance against Iceland by failing to score from 11 shots and missing a crucial penalty.

Sampaoli simply had to defend his star man after his stuttering display against Iceland, but this was another example of a legend of the game wilting on a stage he so desperately wants to dominate.

While his global teammates haven't always been the strongest, Argentina fans have been left frustrated that he hasn't brought success.

Argentina, with a population of more than 44 million, is fifth on the Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings list and has won the World Cup twice, being one of only eight teams in the world to have won the Cup. The pressure led Messi to quit, albeit briefly, from global duty in 2016 after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa Centenario. "He more than anyone would give everything for this to be his World Cup".

"It's true that winning them is important, but getting there is not easy".

"I am experiencing this period with the national team in a different way".

Maradona played for Argentina at four World Cups, captaining them to victory at the 1986 tournament in Mexico, and managed them to the quarter-finals in South Africa in 2010.

He added: "When we succeed with Argentina, everyone takes credit for it but when Argentina loses, it's always Leo's fault".

"We must take advantage from those spaces, those moments so we can attack in a better way".

"His aim is to bring the Cup home, to win the World Cup", Cuccittini told El Trece in a quote translated by ESPN. It's madness that he can not enjoy his talent. We can not dwell on it, lamenting what happened. "Obviously it hurts me to have missed the penalty", he said. Messi is a fantastic player.

Lionel Messi's mother, Celia Cuccittini, said he has "suffered and cried" over criticism about his play in an interview with an Argentine television station.

The Barcelona great has often had a turbulent relationship with the Argentine media.

Lionel Messi's Argentina career has been marked by heartache and disappointment. They would have opened a little more and we could have found more spaces.

Iceland has a population of about 335,000 and is the least populous nation to ever play at a World Cup.

Perhaps, in future, we can make it to being among the best in Asia and qualify for the World Cup. As a outcome of that pressure we are stronger now, this qualification will make us stronger to face the future.

Do you think Messi is the greatest player of all time?

He dare not fail again.

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