Maradona: “Teams No Longer Fear Argentina. Nigeria Disgraced Us”

Argentina legend Diego Maradona believes the Albiceleste have lost their fear factor and will have to rely on the influence of Lionel Messi to do well at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Maradona enjoyed remarkable success with the Albiceleste, having captained the side at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico which they won and is regarded by many as the greatest footballer to have ever played the game.

The South Americans who also made it to the final of the 1990 World Cup in Italy where they lost 1-0 to Germany are drawn in Group D along with Nigeria, Croatia and Iceland.

The two-time world champions enjoyed a successful qualifying campaign and top the South America zone of the qualifiers.

They are also among the favourites to lift the title having reached the final in 2014, but Maradona is concerned the team no longer command respect from opposing teams like in the past.

“The problem with Argentina is that we don’t have good defence and midfield. People talk about Lucas Biglia but he is not the best for me. Unfortunately they are always afraid to say it,” the Napoli legend stated in an interview with

“Today, except for Lionel Messi teams don’t fear Argentina again. Look at the last game against Nigeria, they nearly scored eight goals against us. In my time you know what happened when we played them.

“Jorge Sampaoli is lucky we have Messi in the team because when he is in top form he can cover the mistakes of others.

“If he hits top form in Russia, then we have 60 percent of becoming the champion with others complementing his effort.”

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