Maradona demands more from Argentina against Belgium

The Albiceleste legend has criticised the performances of his compatriots in the World Cup so far, believing that a host of stars have failed to deliver in Brazil so far

Diego Maradona has given a scathing assessment of Argentina's displays at the World Cup, insisting that some key players need to show improvement against Belgium.

The Albiceleste struggled past Switzerland in their last-16 tie, relying on a 118th-minute strike from Angel Di Maria to avoid going into penalties in Sao Paulo.

Maradona expressed his disappointment with Argentina's performances overall, stressing that, though it is natural for the players to look to Lionel Messi for inspiration, many have to step up in their quarter-final with Belgium.

"Alejandro Sabella's team leaves a lot to be desired on the overall front," he wrote in his column for the Times of India.

"[Gonzalo] Higuain is yet to score despite playing in all four matches. I remember him getting goals after being set up by Messi in 2010.

"The uncertainty over [Sergio] Aguero and [Ezequiel] Lavezzi's form continue to be a cause for concern, while [Angel] Di Maria keeps blowing hot and cold.

"There will be two or three marking Messi, and others in the attack will have to capitalise on the gaps left open because of that.

"Argentina are relying heavily on Messi and why not? When you have Leo in the team, you should exploit that advantage.

"Messi has at last found his best touch in the biggest tournament. Argentina couldn't have asked for more, but they need him to continue in this vein."

The 1986 World Cup winners also reminisced about his own clashes with Belgium, most notably the semi-final win in 1986 where he scored twice, but stressed that this generation of Red Devils are superior to the sides he faced.

"A quarter-final between Argentina and Belgium takes me down memory lane," he continued.

"I made my World Cup debut against them in 1982. We were the defending champions and they beat us 1-0. I was mercilessly tackled. I got my revenge in 1986 and scored twice in our 2-0 victory in the semi-finals.

"This Belgian bunch is stronger with lots of young talent. [Thibault] Courtois is one of the most promising goalkeepers. The back four led by [Vincent] Kompany has been solid and [Jan] Vertonghen keeps the left corridor going.

"[Kevin] De Bruyne is a powerful lad at the centre, while [Eden] Hazard has improved a lot playing in the English Premier League.

"They play a compact game under coach Marc Wilmots, who was a fine player himself."