Cristiano Ronaldo is more capable of lifting his national team than Lionel Messi, according to Atletico Madrid boss and former Argentina international Diego Simeone.
Messi was widely criticised following his country’s humiliating 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Thursday , leaving the Albiceleste’s chances of qualifying for the round of 16 in pieces.
Goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic saw Croatia pick up the victory against a dysfunctional Argentina side to put them top of Group D, while Jorge Sampaoli’s side must now wait for results to go their way if they are to progress.
Ronaldo, however, single-handedly earned Portugal a point against Spain with a hat-trick in their opening game before following up with a winning goal in his side’s 1-0 victory over Morocco in Matchday Two.
Portugal takes on Iran in their final group stage game in Russia knowing that a spot in the knockout round of the competition is firmly in their grasp.
Simeone believes that it’s Ronaldo’s performances amongst a ‘normal team’ in the Portugal national side which sees him above countryman Messi.
“Messi is very good but he is very good because he is accompanied by extraordinary players,” Simeone said.
“But if you had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo for a normal team, who would you choose?”
Simeone is said to have made the comments in a WhatsApp audio message to Atletico assistant, German Burgos, which has since been leaked in Spain.
The Atletico boss also slammed the current Argentina set-up for a lack of leadership and called for some fight from the players, claiming the squad currently looks ‘lost’.
“What is happening now, it’s what unfortunately has happened to the national team in the last four years,” Simeone allegedly said. “Anarchy, no leadership from the staff nor from those that guide her… I see a team that is lost. The team is bad, bad.”
The Albiceleste left it late before clinching a spot in this year’s World Cup with Captain Lionel Messi scoring a hat trick in his team’s last qualifier, a 3-1 win at Ecuador on Oct. 10.
Argentina fans in the stands voiced their discontent with Coach Jorge Sampaoli after the game. And, in the audio, Simeone allegedly said: “We all always say that the players are the most important in this game. But they are 60 percent, not 90 percent of it, because when the coaches say we’ve screwed up, it’s certainly worse than when the players screw up. Then it means that the coach has a lot of say in all of this.”
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