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'Without Messi we are just another team': Maradona laments Argentina's early exit

The 1986 World Cup winner did not see anything that surprised him as his country made their exit from Russia 2018.

Image: Getty Images

ARGENTINA’S WORLD CUP exit at the hands of France has been lamented by Diego Maradona, who believes too much pressure was put on Lionel Messi.

Angel Di Maria and Gabriel Mercado overturned Antoine Griezmann’s penalty to give Argentina the lead in the last-16 clash, but France hit back from a stunner from Benjamin Pavard and a Kylian Mbappe double.

Sergio Aguero scored late on for Jorge Sampaoli’s side, but it was not enough to avoid a 4-3 defeat to Didier Deschamps’ side in Kazan .

Maradona, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986 and is still considered one of the country’s greatest ever players, was in attendance for the match and did not see anything that surprised him.

“We came to the cinema more than the pitch, because we came to see the chronicle of an announced death. And that’s what happened,” he said on teleSUR .

“France contained Messi, Argentina’s midfield, so he could not get in behind them.

“Without Messi we are just another team.

“The game was played in a way we anticipated. What we were expecting happened.

“Another World Cup has gone and we are left with nothing. It’s bad that another World Cup happened and Argentina did not manage to have a consistent team.”

Argentina’s campaign was wrought with drama amid talk of a mutiny and the players seeking to have Sampaoli replaced, with suggestions also rife that the coach handed over his selection responsibilities to the squad for their crunch group match against Nigeria.

Sampaoli deployed Messi as a false nine and handed Cristian Pavon his first World Cup start against France, leaving the likes of Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala on the bench.

Maradona was unimpressed by the coach’s tactics, adding: “It was seen from the formation, Pavon, Messi and Di Maria had to attack.

“Yes, they can create play, but they are not strikers.”

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