Paul Merson has slammed Arsene Wenger’s ‘embarrassing’ decision to drop Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal’s crucial Premier League clash against Liverpool.Fans were baffled when Sanchez – who has scored 20 goals this season – was named on the bench for Saturday’s clash, with Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck preferred up front.The Chilean eventually came on at half-time – with the Reds 2-0 up – and while he provided an assist for Welbeck to pull a goal back, it was not enough as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners.Wenger insisted it was a tactical decision to leave Sanchez out, although later claims suggested the star was actually dropped after a bust-up with the boss and a number of team-mates.Monday’s reports also continued to link him with an Emirates Stadium exit, with French champions Paris Saint-Germain strongly linked with a summer move.And former Arsenal midfielder Merson, who was stunned by Wenger’s decision, admits it could be the final straw in Sanchez’s patience with the club.“If Ozil was fit that day, you could understand why he would be put on the bench. He doesn’t work hard enough sometimes, so I could probably understand that away at Liverpool,” he said.“But not Sanchez! Whatever way you weigh it up, it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong.“He gives you everything, he’s their biggest player by a million miles, this is the biggest game they’ve had because they’ve got to get in the top four and Wenger puts him on the bench.“I’m not surprised he wants to leave. It’s embarrassing.”Arsenal fans are apparently getting ready to stage a big anti-Wenger protest ahead of their Champions League game against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.Sports Breakfast host Alan Brazil suggested the proportion of supporters who want the French boss to leave the club could now be as many as 60/40, but Merson believes the odds are far greater after this latest Sanchez controversy.“I think Wenger would settle for 60/40 – it’s got to be more after that,” he added.“This is Sanchez – everybody in the world of football knows that he has to play for Arsenal. You put him down on the team sheet and then you start putting all the others down after that.“And in a big match! I could understand if they were playing at home to Burnley and then had a chance of beating Bayern Munich on Tuesday – then you could understand him being on the bench for that reason.“I always say when managers are under pressure they make bad decisions, and this was one of them.”Listen to talkSPORT’s interview with Paul Merson IN FULL above!
1 There was slightly reduced fixture list in the Premier League on Saturday, with the FA Cup semi-finals being played this weekend, but it was no-less exciting – talkSPORT.com bring you the highlights…Bournemouth 4-0 Middlesbrough:Bournemouth climbed further away from trouble, but forced Middlesbrough further down into the mire after the Cherries ran riot with a 4-0 victory at the Vitality Stadium.Eleven points separated the teams ahead of this weekend’s clash, and the gulf in quality was stark – Boro having the air of a team with absolutely zero hope towards the end of a torrid 90 minutes.Eddie Howe’s men were hoping to avoid a third straight league defeat, but there were no fears of that as they dominated from kick-off to final whistle.In fact, it only took one minute and 36 seconds for the first goal to go in – in-form Josh King finishing from close-range after Marc Pugh’s driving run and ball into the box.Benik Afobe made it 2-0 on 16 minutes as Boro’s hopes of a critical three points began to slide away, and they went out the window entirely when Gaston Ramirez was sent off for a reckless second booking just five minutes later.If Boro found it hard going with 11 men, they were hopeless with ten. Pugh marked his 250th league appearance for Bournemouth with the third goal on 65 minutes, and the three points were well and truly wrapped up when Charlie Daniels scampered around a number of lazy challenges and neatly rifled home.The result means lowly Boro are now 16 games without victory – the top flight’s only team without a win in 2017. They remain six points from safety with five games remaining, and seemingly creeping ever closer to Championship football.Bournemouth are up to 12th.Hull City 2-0 Watford:Hull’s remarkable turnaround under new boss Marco Silva continued as the ten-man Tigers claimed a plucky home win over Watford to boost their survival hopes.It was a tough first-half for the hosts, who saw Oumar Niasse shown a controversial red card which shouldn’t have even been worth a yellow, while they also had a decent penalty appeal turned down by referee Bobby Madley.But they rallied after the break and took a surprise lead when on-loan Liverpool winger Lazar Markovic finished at the second attempt after his headed effort rattled the crossbar.Midfielder Sam Clucas then sealed the three points with a stunning long-range goal, beating Heurelho Gomes with a thumping 30-yard strike to ensure Hull stay two points above the bottom-three.Swansea City 2-0 Stoke CityHull’s relegation rivals Swansea also boosted their hopes with a crucial three points against Stoke – the Welsh side ending a six-match winless run.Fernando Llorente’s early header gave the hosts a precious lead, but fans were on the edge of the seats in a tense second-half.Stoke wasted a chance to get back into the game as Marko Arnautovic blasted a penalty high over the bar, and his blunder proved costly, as former Tottenham man Tom Carroll doubled the Swans’ lead shortly after with a long-range shot which was deflected past returning goalkeeper Jack Butland.Hull’s win meant Swansea remain in the bottom-three, although the Swans now sit just two points behind the Tigers.West Ham 0-0 EvertonEverton missed the chance to move into the top five as they played out a uninspiring goalless stalemate at the London Stadium.There was very little action to speak of, with Everton taking 70 minutes to register their first shot – although they failed to land one on target in the whole game.Romelu Lukaku, the Premier League top scorer, was kept quiet by the Hammers’ excellent three-man defence, with his only effort coming from a blocked shot.Slaven Bilic will no doubt be the happier of the two managers, as the point edges his side closer to Premier League safety on 38 points, seven clear of Swansea in 18th with four games left to play. Swansea and Hull boosted their survival hopes with crucial victories
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“We’ve joined in this event for all the seven years that I’ve been chief,” Couso-Vasquez said. “I’m not supposed to run because I have stenosis of the spine, but I have to do it. Some of these kids can’t even walk. It’ll be painful when I’m done, but it’s worth it, it’s in my heart.” Mora said he chose to join the torch run through Montebello because it was a Montebello police officer who inspired his career in boxing when they met 10 years ago in a local gym. “I never knew my dad and this officer was my father figure,” Mora said. Mayor Bob Bagwell was on hand to cheer on the runners as they passed the torch. “The Special Olympics is such a great event because it has the capacity to link countries and communities,” Bagwell said. MONTEBELLO – The Special Olympics torch wound through the city Thursday along its 10-day trip from San Diego to today’s opening ceremonies at Cal State Long Beach. Sergio Mora, who won the top spot on the TV reality show “The Contender,” joined several Montebello police officers in passing the torch to Montebello police Chief Garry Couso-Vasquez in front of City Hall. The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest fundraising event for the Special Olympics, raising more than $25 million last year with 85,000 officers participating in 35 countries. In Southern California this year, 3,500 officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies carried the torch a total of 1,500 miles through 200 communities. “What diplomats can’t do, sports can often accomplish.” Starting June 6, two torches were carried through Southern California on their way to tonight’s opening ceremonies at Cal State Long Beach. One torch traveled from San Luis Obispo south and the other from San Diego, said Bob Basile, the Special Olympics’ director of development for the San Gabriel region. The games will attract nearly 1,600 athletes over the weekend, who will compete in in swimming, gymnastics, tennis, track and field, and basketball, he said. email@example.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Getty Images – Getty 7 7 Everton have spent big in recent years but results on the pitch have not followed Getty Images – Getty How West Ham lined up on the last day of the 2017/18 season Everton signings since Brands’ arrival 7 7 He took on a technical role at RKC Waalwijk before joining AZ Alkmaar in 2005, along with former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, and in 2009, AZ won only their second ever Eredivisie title.Brands’ exploits earned him a move to PSV in 2010, where he looked after the club’s transfer strategy and youth development.During his eight years with the Dutch club, they claimed three Eredivisie titles, three Johan Cruyff Shields and one KNVB Cup.However, since replacing Steve Walsh as Everton’s director of football in 2018, things haven’t gone quite so smoothly. Richarlison (Watford) – £35.3mAlex Iwobi (Arsenal) – £27.3mYerry Mina (Barcelona) – £27.2mMoise Kean (Juventus) – £24.8mAndre Gomes (Barcelona) – £22.5mJean-Philippe Gbamin (Mainz) – £22.5mLucas Digne (Barcelona) – £18.2mFabian Delph (Man City)- £8.6mDjibril Sidibe (Monaco) – Loan fee £2.25mKurt Zouma (Chelsea) – Loan fee £7.1mBernard – Free transferTotal spend – £198m Everton and West Ham both appointed new directors of football in the summer of 2018, with the singular aim of breaking away from from the Premier League’s mid-table pack.Marcel Brands arrived along with manager Marco Silva at Goodison Park, while the Hammers hired Mario Husillos to look after the club’s transfer business alongside the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini. Who did it better?Despite arriving with a smaller reputation and a smaller budget, West Ham’s Husillos has outdone Everton’s Brands since they both arrived in the Premier League.Not only have they spent less, the Hammers have seen a clear and obvious improvement on the pitch, largely thanks to the new arrivals.The likes of Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop and Lukasz Fabiankski helped guide West Ham to a top ten finish last season, collecting ten more points and climbing three places compared to the previous campaign.Meanwhile, Sebastien Haller and Andrii Yarmolenko have been central to the positive start made by the Hammers this season. How Everton lined up in their most recent Premier League fixture Take a look at Everton and you’ll see no notable improvement from before Brands arrived, despite the nearly £200m spent on players.The Toffees finished eighth before they sacked Allardyce in the summer of 2018 and ended up in the same position last season.Andre Gomes and Lucas Digne have probably justified their price tags, while the inconsistent Richarlison can be effective on his day, but the way things are going this year, it’s hard to see them breaking into the top six any time soon. It represented a seismic change of direction for both clubs, and they’ve thrown all their weight behind it in the transfer market. Since the arrival of Brands and Husillos, Everton have spent nearly £200million, while West Ham have splashed more than £155million on players.But ahead of their meeting on Saturday, which you can hear live as part of talkSPORT’s GameDay coverage, only one club has reaped the rewards.Everton may have finished two points above West Ham last season, but the Toffees are currently in the relegation zone following a dreadful start to the campaign, while the Hammers are banging on the door of the top six.Silva must surely win on Saturday or risk facing the sack, but his predecessor, Sam Allardyce, suggests the blame ought to be shared by director of football Brands. Who is Mario Husillos?The Argentine showed plenty of promise as a teenager for Boca Juniors and even played for Real Madrid Castilla when he was 19.However, Husillos ended up becoming a journeyman striker in Spain, playing for various different clubs and usually moving on quite quickly.After several managerial roles, he joined Malaga as a sporting director in 2012, with current West Ham manager Pellegrini in charge.In 2018, Husillos came in for criticism for his transfer selections in a season that ended in relegation to the Segunda Division.Nonetheless, West Ham opted to reunite him and Pellegrini at the London Stadium that summer. West Ham have also invested heavily since the summer of 2018 How Everton lined up on the last day of the 2017/18 season Cardiff vs Sheffield Wednesday (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2Everton vs West Ham (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORTBlackburn vs Huddersfield (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2Tottenham vs Watford (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2Crystal Palace vs Man City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORTWigan vs Nottingham Forest (Sunday, 2pm) – talkSPORT 2 Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this weekend Sebastien Haller (Frankfurt) – £36mFelipe Anderson (Lazio) – £27.9mPablo Fornals (Villarreal) – £25.2mIssa Diop (Toulouse) – £22.5mAndrii Yarmolenko (Borussia Dortmund) – £18mAlbian Ajeti (Basel) – £7.8mLukasz Fabianski (Swansea) – £7.2mLucas Perez (Arsenal) – £4mFabien Balbuena (Corinthians) – £3.6mGoncalo Cardoso (Boavista) – £2.7mXande Silva (Guimaraes) – £1.4mDavid Martin (Millwall) – Free transferRoberto (Espanyol) – Free transferJack Wilshere (Arsenal) – Free transferCarlos Sanchez (Fiorentina) – Free transferRyan Fredericks (Fulham) – Free transferTotal spend – £156m Getty Images – Getty 7 Allardyce guided the Toffees to eighth during the 2017/18 season, the same position they finished the following campaign despite significantly greater investment.“You’ve got to look at the new director of football,” Allardyce told talkSPORT. “Is Marco Silva struggling because he hasn’t recruited all these players and it’s the new director of football?“It’s a difficult position as a manager. He [Brands] has been brought in with a big reputation as director of football.“But, at the end of the day, you spend all this money and if you don’t spend it the right way, it makes the manager’s job harder.“I wonder how many of these players Marco Silva actually sanctioned and said he wanted.” LIVE on talkSPORT buildlineup.com buildlineup.com Ironically, the last game before Allardyce was sacked by Everton and West Ham replaced David Moyes was a meeting between the two sides in question, which West Ham won 3-1.And Saturday’s clash will prove an interesting measure of how far both teams have come since that day.Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT as we bring you THREE live Premier League commentaries across our network, including Everton vs West Ham at 12:30 Is Marcel Brands responsible for Everton’s woes? How West Ham lined up in their most recent Premier League fixture 7 buildlineup.com buildlineup.com Who is Marcel Brands?Unlike many directors of football, such as Edwin van der Sar at Ajax and Edu at Arsenal, Brands never really made a name for himself as a player.His 17-year playing career was spent entirely in the Netherlands, with the highlight probably being two seasons in the top division with Feyenoord between 1988 and 1989.He is a bit of legend at RKC Waalwijk, though, for whom he made more than 350 appearances over three separate spells.The Dutchman rose to prominence after he retired from playing, becoming one of the most reputable directors in European football. 7 West Ham signings since Husillos’ arrival
Twitter – 13 percentFaceBook – 20 percentLinkedIn – 31 percentBlogs and Wikis – 33 percentWeb Conferencing – 57 percent Technology is rapidly changing how people do their jobs. A recent IDC report found that technologies that are forcing that change include mobility, collaboration and social media.More than half of US and European workers now report that their laptop computers have become their most important device that they use for work. Tablet PC’s, like the iPad, are also rapidly becoming important tools. The IDC report notes that often personal equipment is more powerful and capable than technology provided by the enterprise for workplace use.Because of that, users are increasingly using their mobile and personal devices for accessing enterprise information. In 2010 roughly 30 percent of workers used their personal PC, tablet PC or smartphone to access their enterprise network. In 2011, that number has increased to more than 40 percent of workers.The report found that the use of computers outside the workplace for accessing enterprise information increases the likelihood that those users will use consumer-targeted applications for enterprise purposes. In particular, Social Media applications fall into that category and are being increasingly used for the Enterprise. Enterprise workers report that the Social Media applications which they use for work include the following: This move towards ‘consumerization’ of the Enterprise is making life difficult for IT though. 80 percent of IT report that adding support for personal devices and consumer applications significantly increases their workload. On the other hand, 70 percent of executives say that the trend is inevitable and increases worker productivity and improves how the enterprise conducts business.
Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… audrey watters Google has been offering users a mortgage comparison tool for a couple of years and has slowly added new financial products to that comparison tool as well, including credit cards, CDs, and banking account information. But these tools have never been showcased by Google, until now with the launch of a new site called Google Advisor. The site rolls all these different search and comparison tools into one place so you can examine providers side-by-side. Looking for a checking account with no monthly fees? Looking for a credit card that offers frequent flyer miles? Looking for a low-interest mortgage? These are the sorts of questions the new site can help users answer.According to Google, this special tool will help users find the information they want more quickly as it allows them to control the sorts of offers they’re looking for, with search results that are updated in real time. Google will of course make some money when users are referred to certain providers, but it insists that banks and lenders are not paying to have their search results rank highly. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#Finance#Google#web Next to medical data, financial information is probably some of the data people are most sensitive about. Google insists it will protect the privacy of those using the site. Google Account information won’t be shared, and phone numbers will only be shared with lenders if users allow it. Currently Google Advisor is only available in the U.S., and while the offering isn’t as robust as other financial services available (such as Mint.com), the site is an indication Google may roll out more features in this area. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
Welcome back! For most people, January means grey weather, new exercise regimes, and fat-free, fun-free diets. To those of us in the world of education, however, January offers a spark of edtech excitement. Europe’s biggest education technology fair is back for its 21st appearance at London’s ExCel centre from 25 to 28 January. We’ll be there as always – this year on stand C210 – to meet over 44,000 like-minded teachers, students, leaders, techies, makers, coders and thinkers.Bett 2017 looks set to be fantastic, with superstar chef Heston Blumenthal and education guru Sir Ken Robinson already confirmed for keynote talks.This year we’re positioned right next to the main Bett arena, and we’ll be hosting events throughout the week to show off the latest and best technology that you can incorporate into your own classrooms.On Thursday 26 January, Intel will be leading a School Leaders Summit discussion, Taking a 360 Degree Look at Student Learning, with a panel of our five* Intel® Education Visionaries to discuss how to build a meaningful 360-degree learning experience. The focus will be on how to unlock the power of personalizing the student experience, using technology and data to connect educators and students.We’ll also be co-hosting three sessions at the STEAM Village. On the Wednesday, Yorick Schetgen from our IOT Innovators and Makers division will be presenting the Makeblock, a learning platform that uses robots to teach engineering skills to young people aged 6-13. Look out for his talk at 12:00 called Creative physical programming at school with Makeblock Mbot.The following day, get hands-on at the circuit petting zoo. Derek Runberg from Sparkfun will introduce the Arduino 101 Inventor’s Kit and show you how you can take it into your classroom, all in under an hour, starting at 14:45. The kit is designed to help embed concepts of mathematics, motion, computational thinking, computer science, and engineering into your STEAM programme.And if you’re feeling lucky, there are also chances to win some great prizes. At Intel’s stand, take our 360 learning tour for a chance to win a 2 in 1 with Intel Inside – we’re giving away one each day. The drawings will be held at 16:00 on 25, 26 and 27 January so make sure you stick around. We’d also recommend stopping by the Making and Coding area of our stand to receive a free USB drive with over 20 UK Makers lesson plans and projects.Finally, on Friday 27th, spend your lunch break getting to know the CTCprogram. More formally known as Creative Technologies in the Classroom from Arduino, it includes learning materials and over 20 hands-on projects for students starting at age 13 and above that introduces basic concepts in programming, electronics, and mechanics in an approachable, playful way. Already a hit in Spain, Sweden and Ecuador, the program has now been opened up to teachers around the globe. Head down at 13:15 to find out more.So if you’re visiting Bett, these quick, informative, and fun sessions will give you something to take back into your classroom.As well as the one-off sessions, our stand C210 will be open for the duration of the event. Here you can meet some of our Intel Education Visionaries – educators who are leading the way in the creative use of classroom technology. You can also get to grips with Intel-powered devices from laptops, tablets and 2-in-1s to robots and Lego, as well as a range of hardware and software from our industry partners and four ed-tech startups from our Intel® Education Accelerator programme.But what if you can’t make it? As always, you can follow us on social media, where we’ll be bringing you live updates from all the key talks, demos, announcements, and performances, as well as nightly recaps of all the day’s action. Twitter is the most frequently updated, but you can also keep abreast of the action on Facebook.See you there.*Visionaries for School Leader Panel:Gareth Shaw, ICT Leader and Educator, UK, Northern Ireland Ballyclare High SchoolAmanda Hayward, ICT Coordinator, UK, England ICT in SchoolsSimon Wing, Educator, UK, England Montgomery Primary SchoolIan Phillips, IT Director, UK, The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ SchoolDonna Teuber, Innovation Program Designer, USA, Richland School District Two, South Carolina
The Fatted Calf and Ayutthaya: New restos worth the drive to Tagaytay Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim MRT 7 on track for partial opening in 2021 Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH Davis, Cousins, power Pelicans’ rout of Spurs LATEST STORIES Sudanese former NBA star Manute Bol sits in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba on Feb. 16, 2009. AFP/PETER MARTELLManute Bol didn’t have a stellar career in the NBA, but he certainly was one of the league’s most memorable players.Standing 7 feet and 7 inches tall and tied with Gheorghe Muresan as the NBA’s tallest player, the willowy Sudanese giant suited up four teams in a career that spanned 10 seasons.ADVERTISEMENT ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Malditas save PH from shutout UCF’s Tacko Fall is 7-foot-6, and his game is still growingSports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MOST READ After 30 years, Johnlu Koa still doing ‘hard-to-make’ quality breads Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:15Zimbabwe ex-president Robert Mugabe dies aged 9503:14Mom of 3 year old girl slain in anti drug ops files raps vs Rodriguez cops02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View comments Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Apart form his pole-like stature and penchant for blocking shots, Bol is perhaps best remembered for his supposedly dubious age, as fans have long disputed if he really was 23 years old when when he entered the league in 1985.Among those doubters include former Cleveland State head coach Kevin Mackey, who first recruited Bol when he arrived in the US in the mid-1980s.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games opening“I gave him his birthday (Oct. 16, 1962) because they didn’t know how old he was,” Mackey revealed to Zagsblog’s Adam Zagoria.With Bol’s origin in question, Mackey admitted that he made the lanky center appear as young as plausible to get him into the program. “Every athletic door is open at 19, every athletic door is closed when you’re 35,” the former bench boss explained. “He was probably 40, 50 years old when he was playing in the NBA.”Bol passed away due to kidney failure in 2010 and was believed to have been 47 years old at the time.A capable three-point shooter and elite rim protector, Bol is the only player in history to have tallied more career blocked shots (2,086) than points (1,599).He is survived by his son Bol Bol, an upcoming NBA prospect who recently committed to the University of Oregon. Khristian Ibarrola /raRELATED STORY:ADVERTISEMENT
Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic today scored the 25,000th goal in the English Premier League (EPL) history as Manchester United defeated Swansea City 3-1 to end four-match winless streak.Mourinho watched from the stands at the Liberty Stadium following his touchline ban imposed by the Football Association on Wednesday and was buoyed to see Ibrahimovic score twice – his first league goals in eight weeks – and Pogba net a superb volley.United, vastly improved after their midweek Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce, went ahead with a 15th minute strike from Pogba worthy of his 89 million pounds price tag before Ibrahimovic ended his goal drought with a sharp first-half double in the space of 12 minutes.Mike van der Hoorn offered winless Swansea manager Bob Bradley brief hope of an unlikely salvage job when he headed in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 69th minute free kick but his Swans remain mired in relegation trouble, on five points, the same as bottom club Sunderland.
Spain captain Sergio Ramos has responded to a putdown from Argentina great Diego Maradona by making an unlikely declaration of admiration for Lionel Messi, his usual enemy as the talisman of Real Madrid’s arch-rivals Barcelona.Maradona, his country’s 1986 World Cup-winning captain, remarked this week that “Ramos is no superstar, the real superstar defender is Diego Godin” when comparing Spain’s serial-winner Ramos with the Uruguay captain.Ramos was asked what he made of Maradona’s comments after Spain’s 1-0 World Cup Group B win over Iran, and chose to praise on Messi, who has led Barcelona to numerous wins over Real Madrid and had plenty of full-blooded clashes with the Spaniard.”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.Stung by his failure to score a penalty and avert a disappointing draw against Iceland, the Argentine captain would love to make amends in their World Cup Group D match against Croatia on Thursday.Having led Argentina to an agonising final defeat by Germany four years ago, Messi turns 31 in a few days and may be playing his last World Cup. He would need to win it to rival fellow great Diego Maradona for the eternal love of his compatriots.The diminutive Argentine captain known as “La Pulga” (The Flea) has won every club accolade imaginable with Barcelona, but has agonizingly missed out on international trophies both at the World Cup and Copa America.advertisementFor many Argentines, that means while he may be the world’s best player currently, Messi has not entered the same pantheon as Maradona “El Pibe” (The Kid) who won the 1986 World Cup.Nevertheless, it is 32 years since Argentina last won the World Cup and 25 since their last silverware, the Copa America in 1993.Croatia themselves are not short on top-quality players. As well as Rakitic, they also have the talented Luka Modric in midfield, and towering hitman Mario Madzukic up front.With their strongest squad for years and in pole position in the group, Croatia dream of rivalling the glories of 1998, when they reached the World Cup semi-finals and finished third after a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the playoff.(With Reuters inputs)