Messi – We’re our biggest enemy
Maradona has turned fortunes around, says Barca man
Argentina star Lionel Messi believes his own team are the biggest obstacle between themselves and World Cup glory.
Messi’s team started their Group B campaign on Saturday by beating Nigeria 1-0 and Diego Maradona’s team looked impressive with their free-flowing style.
However, the Argentinians failed to convert the style into substance and allowed the Super Eagles opportunities to get back into the match.
Messi says his team-mates are the only thing standing in the way of them winning the tournament and has warned his colleagues to remain professional in their pursuit of the trophy.
“Argentina should only be afraid of Argentina,” said Messi.
“I say this with maximum respect to all the other teams but we have quality and talent.
“We must remain concentrated and go forward as we have been doing, training with care and staying united. We really should not be afraid of anybody.”
Maradona’s animated style on the touchlines during the win in Johannesburg courted attention from the media as the 1986 World Cup hero displayed a passionate approach to managing his side.
And Messi says the coach’s influence on his players has been profound, adding: “Maradona is an exceptional motivator and to have him as a manager is an honour for us.
“He’s close to us, he’s one of us and he helps with his extraordinary experience. The attitude of the players has changed – and our team has an enormous margin of improvement.”
Argentina’s passage to South Africa in qualifying was hardly convincing under Maradona’s reign, with his team scraping through thanks to a final round victory.
That led to concerns Messi and his fellow stars would flatter to deceive on the biggest stage, however the Barcelona attacker said the approach of his team had been transformed since the beginning of the competition.
The 22-year-old said: “Everything has changed from the qualifiers. The approach has changed completely and the behaviour of the players.
“Before we weren’t a group and we often played badly. We couldn’t get the win and we were subjected to criticism.
“We are motivated, we train hard and we see the fruit of our work. We are a different Argentina.”