Lionel Messi returned to Argentina's lineup but couldn't prevent them losing at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. Maradona, who won the 1986 FIFA World Cup, spoke to reporters and criticised the board in control of the team, as well as the players:
“I prefer not to watch horror films but I don’t know how the inept bunch who are in charge of Argentina thought they were going to beat Venezuela.
“It hurts me because I feel Argentinean to the core, but with the generation of players like [Oscar] Ruggeri, [Gabriel] Batistuta, [Claudio] Caniggia... the current team don’t deserve to wear the shirt and those players had it tattooed on them. We’d give our lives to see the back of [Claudio] Tapia, who has no idea what he’s doing.”
Argentina fell 2-0 behind in Madrid following goals from Venezuelan forwards Salomon Rondon and Jhon Murrillo. Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez halved the deficit on the hour mark, but Josef Martinez's 75th-minute penalty sealed a deserved friendly win for coach Rafael Dudamel's side.
The setting was a familiar one for Barcelona attacker Messi, and La Liga writer Sid Lowe detailed his frustrations in attempting to get Argentina running as expected:
Maradona currently manages Mexican outfit Dorados de Sinaloa, who sit eighth in the Liga Ascenso MX and have suffered only two defeats in their last 12 games in all competitions.
Argentina did make it to the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup but just barely squeezed into the knockout stages of the 2018 competition and were eventually ousted by winners France.
Juan Arango attested to a much larger problem than Messi can solve alone:
Friday's result was just the second time in 25 meetings that Venezuela managed to beat La Albiceleste, who are often regarded as a much more daunting threat among South American teams.
Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia will remain in the post until 2021, but Maradona detailed his disappointment with the job so far:
"I feel sorry for the Argentinean people, who continue to believe in this liar, and I feel sorry for the players who have to take the consequences when the people that should be doing so are the directors who are giving away the prestige of the Argentina national team."
Despite the need for Argentina to reaffirm themselves as a team and more than just Messi alone, manager Lionel Scaloni focused on Barca's talisman as the engine of his side despite their loss, via Goal:
La Albiceleste are eager to return back to the glory days of a bygone era, though outspoken Maradona's criticism of the incumbent squad should be taken with a pinch of salt.