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Maradona to Messi: 'You are not guilty of anything'

17:36 GMT+3 25/06/2018
Diego Maradona
The Argentina World Cup-winner has jumped to the defence of his country's current star, who has come under increasing criticism

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

A 1-1 draw with Iceland in their Group D opener was followed by a shock 3-0 thumping at the hands of Croatia , meaning the two-time winners must beat Nigeria in their 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 their 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."