Former Argentina striker Hernan Crespo has jumped to the defence of Lionel Messi, saying he needs help from his team-mates to win the World Cup in Russia.
The Barcelona superstar endured a difficult opening game at the tournament on Saturday, missing a penalty in his side’s surprising 1-1 draw with Group D rivals Iceland.
Messi had 11 shots without scoring – setting a new Argentina record for the World Cup – and was dejected at the final whistle.
Crespo – who won 64 caps for Argentina – has criticised Messi’s colleagues and believes they need to provide the 30-year-old with more support if the country is to win it’s first World Cup since 1986, when Diego Maradona carried them to glory.
“Let’s start with a fact: Messi deserves a five [for his performance],” Crespo told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Of course, we expect more from him, but Messi is not Maradona, alone he does not win a World Cup.
“This must be understood first by all Argentinians, and then by his team-mates.
“He is a phenomenon if he is put in the right conditions, like in Barcelona. Otherwise he is struggling.
“But tell me: who helped him against Iceland? [Angel] Di Maria did not get past his opponent once, the midfielders did not support him.”
Messi will be looking to bounce back when Argentina take on Croatia – who defeated Nigeria 2-0 on Saturday – at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday.