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World Cup 2018: Jorge Sampaoli warns Argentina fans to stop making Lionel Messi 'the guilty one' after penalty miss

The Independent logo The Independent 21-06-2018 Jack Watson
Lionel Messi standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Fans should stop blaming Lionel Messi for Argentina’s shortcomings according to Jorge Sampaoli who is encouraging his side to share more responsibility.

Messi missed a penalty and the chance to give Argentina the lead as drew their opening group game against Iceland 1-1.

Sampaoli said that fans should change the way they think and not always jump to the conclusion that a disappointing result is Messi’s “fault.”

“When you score with the Argentina jersey, we all take credit for it. But when Argentina loses, it’s all Leo’s fault. I think that’s quite unfair treatment. It’s a lot of pressure for a single player to stand. I have to say I feel responsible for that missed penalty.

"Messi can't be the only guilty one,” Sampaoli added as he prepares for Thursday’s Group D game against Croatia. “I think that’s too easy a way for Argentinians to think.”

The Argentina manager is also growing increasingly frustrated with Argentina fans for continuing to draw comparisons between Messi and Diego Maradona

a football player on a field: gettyimages-976170454.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited gettyimages-976170454.jpg

“They are different. Their contexts are different,” he said of Messi’s comparison to the 1986 World Cup winner. “We need to take advantage of that.”

Messi was often crowded out by Iceland defenders in the opening game and Sampaoli is urging his teammates to take advantage of the space he creates.

“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 need to take advantage of that.”

Argentina’s next opponents Croatia made light work of Nigeria in their 2-0 win and sit in pole position in Group D, and Sampaoli, who is facing pressure after an underwhelming 12 months in charge, is bracing himself for a tough game.

a football player on a field: image © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited image

“It’s going to be difficult. Croatia have a generation of outstanding players who have just won.

“There were lots of factors of irritation for not winning against Iceland. There are 40 of us at this World Cup. The team will be together when things go well and when things go badly.”

Argentina have a fully fit team but Croatia will be without Nikola Kalinic who was sent home after refusing to come on as a substitute against Nigeria, claiming he had a back problem.

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

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