Maradona doubts Argentina players pick Sampaoli's team

It would be "outrageous" if Argentina players picked the team instead of Jorge Sampaoli, but Diego Maradona does not think it happened.

Diego Maradona doubts Argentina players are picking the team at the World Cup and not coach Jorge Sampaoli.   -  AFP

Diego Maradona doubts Argentina players are picking the team at the World Cup and not coach Jorge Sampaoli.

It was reported in the wake of Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia that Sampaoli would relinquish his selection responsibilities for the crunch clash against Nigeria, with the players seeking for him to be replaced with general manager Jorge Burruchaga.

The coach had to contend with further doubts about his authority when it was alleged in the Argentine media that a touchline conversation with Lionel Messi during the Nigeria game included him asking the captain if he wanted Sergio Aguero to come on, something the 58-year-old denied.

Argentina overcame Gernot Rohr's side 2-1 thanks to Marcos Rojo's 86th-minute goal, setting up a last-16 clash against France.

Maradona was an exuberant attendee in St Petersburg and does not believe the players are in charge of picking the line-up.

"I don't believe that's possible. If that happened, it's better not to have a coach," he told Marca.

"I think it's outrageous, anyway. Not having a leader for certain things would not be good.

"Although you also have to rely on experienced players, but even they need the coach to tell them something, to lead the way."

Maradona endorses Lopetegui

While Argentina's issues have bubbled during the tournament, Spain went into the World Cup on the back of coaching turmoil after Julen Lopetegui was sacked 48 hours before the side's opening match against Portugal, having agreed a deal with Real Madrid a day prior.

Maradona supported Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales' swift action in replacing Lopetegui with Fernando Hierro for its campaign in Russia.

"I back the president. He was very brave. He did what I would have done as president of Dynamo Brest. I would've acted the same," said Maradona.

"Lopetegui was not only the coach of the president of the federation, he was the coach who represented all Spaniards.

"It was a lack of respect and Rubiales' decision is justified."

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