Lionel Messi has taken a leaf out of Cristiano Ronaldo’s book by criticising Iceland’s in-your-face football.
Argentine ace Messi missed a penalty as the Scandinavian underdogs snatched a 1-1 draw against one of the tournament favourites on Saturday night.
Two years ago, Ronaldo blasted the Icelanders for having a “small mentality” when they grabbed a draw against Portugal at 2016.
And Messi struck a similar chord when he claimed: “Iceland practically did nothing.
“All they did was defend and attack with nothing but long throw-ins.
“I think we deserved to win the game, but there are some positives that we can take beyond the result.
(Image: David Ramos – FIFA)
(Image: Ryan Pierse)
“We leave with a feeling of bitterness and anger.
“I feel responsible for not being able to take the three points. With the penalty we could have done.
“We really felt we were in a complicated group and we knew it would be a difficult game.
“Physically Iceland are very strong, but now we must only think about what is ahead.
“We must rest, prepare well, and not waste any more time thinking about this game.”
(Image: Clive Rose)
(Image: Mike Hewitt – FIFA)
Argentina legend Diego Maradona urged their fans to chant for Messi from his seat in the stand after the Barcelona forward had his second-half spot-kick saved by Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson.
And afterwards the Hand of God took to his Instagram account to post a reminder that his Argentina side went on to reach the final in 1990 despite falling to a shock defeat to Cameroon in their opening game.
Maradona wrote: “I started a World Cup losing, not drawing, in the opening game of Italia ’90.
“And, despite the injuries, despite everything, we reached the final.”
The South Americans had 27 efforts on goal and 78 percent of the possession, but their progress towards the last 16 has been made much more difficult after Croatia took a grip on the group by beating Nigeria 2-0.
Messi said: “I am grateful for that the fans sang my name.
“The stadium was full of Argentines because our people live for these competitions.
“We are disappointed not to start with three points, but we must now keep calm and think about the games that are coming.
“Croatia are a great team and Nigeria are also good.”