Diego Maradona is worried that the pressure of winning the World Cup is weighing heavy on Lionel Messi.
The South Americans will line up against Germany tonight to battle it out for the top prize, with the 27-year-old attacker widely seen as his nation’s talisman.
Messi has been in, arguably, his best for in the international stage for some time of late, firing four goals in Brazil to get his side all the way to the showpiece game.
The Barcelona man is the player his country will be turning to at the Maracana, and ‘El Diego’ – a World Cup winner in 1986 – is worried that the talisman is “tired” due to the pressure on his shoulders:
“The only fear I have is that ‘The Flea’ [Messi] is tired. He looked very tired, to me, against Holland. Even if he doesn’t score in the final, for me he is still the best player in the world. But when you are playing a World Cup final, you cannot afford to be tired.” He is quoted by the Sunday People.
“I think he will understand that. If you miss a chance like this, the chance for the best feeling you can have, you will always regret it.”
Maradona went on to say that he has taken much heart from Argentina’s semi-final win against the Netherlands:
“I liked the Argentina I saw against Holland. For the first time in a long time I saw pride in the shirt.
“Javier Mascherano and Martin Demichelis were the keys for us, as you could see they were talking, giving orders, making people confident.
“It looks like we have overcome the defensive problems, although Germany are a very different team.”