Messi 'not guilty of anything', insists Maradona

Lionel Messi has come under criticism for his disappointing displays at Russia 2018, but has received the backing of Diego Maradona.

Diego Maradona at Spartak Stadium   -  Getty Images

Diego Maradona has said that Lionel Messi is "not guilty of anything" as Argentina faces a potential first World Cup group-stage exit since 2002.

A 1-1 draw with Iceland in its Group D opener was followed by a shock 3-0 thumping at the hands of Croatia, meaning the two-time winner must beat Nigeria in its final match on Tuesday to have any chance of progressing.

Messi missed a second-half penalty in that draw with Iceland and cut an isolated figure as his side slumped to a heavy defeat in its second game.

The Barcelona star has come under criticism for his muted displays, but Maradona – who managed Messi at the 2010 World Cup – insists he is not responsible for Argentina's struggles.  

"To Leo, I would like to talk to you and tell you that you are not guilty of anything, of absolutely nothing," he said during a TV appearance on Telesur.

"I love you as always, I respect you as always.

"For me, you have played an exceptional World Cup [in South Africa 2010]."

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