Don’t return home if you lose to Nigeria, Maradona warns Argentina coach

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli at the touchline in a past match

Yet the superstar who announced his retirement from global football in June 2016, only to reverse that decision a few months later, has admitted the pressures of leading his national team are far more demanding than his weekly duties with Barcelona.

Spain national team, Captain Sergio Ramos has taken a swipe of Diego Maradona by claiming that Lionel Messi is the greatest Argentinean player ever.

It seemed that there could only be one outcome as Messi squared up to Iceland keeper Hannes Halldórsson, as the ultimate giant of the game stepped up to slay the upset kings of worldwide football.

"Obviously we all support him, there is no need to remember that", he said Tuesday.

"I told him "This is the World Cup of 40 million [Argentinians]".

"I still think we can improve in all aspects".

Under pressure himself after an underwhelming year in charge of Argentina despite an extraordinary array of individual talent at his disposal, Sampaoli was bombarded with questions about his controversial use of three central defenders. "He more than anyone would give everything for this to be his World Cup".

Croatia is leading Group D after beating Nigeria 2-0.

"It's going to be hard".

Sampaoli is expected to make several changes to his team for the Croatia match, but would not be drawn on his selection as he said he had not yet spoken to his players.

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.

"When he has two or three opponents trying to block him, somewhere on the pitch a teammate is free, as happened against Iceland", he said.

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

Messi and company, who drew with Iceland in their first game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, will go up against Croatia on Thursday evening, in what is a must-win game for the Argentines.

"They are different. Their contexts are different", he said, urging fans to look at the overall record of Messi, who is Argentina's all-time stop scorer. He's a national hero, as Diego was. Every Argentine has a MESSI 10 shirt, like we had of MARADONA during his time.

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

SAMPAOLI and ACUÑA discussed the team, the players, Lionel MESSI and more. "I have to say I feel responsible for that missed penalty".

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