'Maradona is light years behind Messi' - Sergio Ramos

Referee Damir Skomina and assistants Jure Praprotnik and Robert Vukan before the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group D match between Wales and Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Ra

They earned a more than respectable 1-1 draw against Argentina, which is captained by one of the highest regarded players in the game, Lionel Messi.

The two have of course been universally compared, with the 1986 World Cup victor frequently changing his opinion on the five-time Ballon d'Or.

"Messi does not have any substitute here, in Barcelona or anywhere in the world".

BRONNITSY, RUSSIA - JUNE 19: Lionel Messi of Argentina arrives prior a training session at Stadium of Syroyezhkin sports school on June 19, 2018 in Bronnitsy, Russia. "Of course, we expect more from him, but Messi is not [Diego] Maradona, alone he does not win a World Cup". When he scores, all Argentines celebrate, so when he misses, we can't jump on him alone. that's too easy a way to think.

"I respect Maradona because he is an all-time great, I think he was a star, but I'll also tell you that Argentine football knows Maradona is light years behind their number one player, which is Messi", Ramos said. "And I hope he will continue playing for as long as he wants and for as long as his health allows him to".

To add insult to injury, after Argentina's 2014 World Cup loss, the team then went on to lose in the finals at the Copa America in two straight years. "It's silly. Messi is good but he's never won the World Cup". A defeat against the Luka Modric-led Croatians in Nizhny Novgorod could see Argentina, unthinkably, flirting with a first group stage exit since 2002. "[Angel] Di Maria did not get past his opponent once, the midfielders did not support him".

"I see him much more relaxed, calmer and with more confidence", Cuccittini said.

Maradona loves the attention of the media and will undoubtedly respond to Ramos' comments in the coming days, with Argentina set to face Croatia this evening it could be sooner rather than later.

Messi is bearing the weight of expectations as Argentina seek a first World Cup trophy since 1986, desperate to crown his glittering career with a major global tournament success.

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