Frank Leboeuf has revealed that he was left baffled by how poor Cristian Romero was in Argentina’s loss to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Argentina came into the World Cup in Qatar as one of the favourites to win the tournament and of their three group-stage fixtures, their opening game against Saudi Arabia was the most straightforward one on paper.

Cristian Romero

(Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Things were going to plan for the South American side in the first half as Lionel Messi gave them the lead from the penalty spot in the tenth minute and they continued dominating proceedings until the interval.

However, Saudi Arabia caught the Albiceleste by surprise in the way they started the second period, taking a shock lead with a quickfire double. 

The Argentine backline failed to cover themselves in glory for either of the goals, with Romero being caught flat-footed for Saleh Alshehri’s equaliser. The Tottenham man, who looked extremely off-colour all afternoon, was hauled off by Lionel Scaloni just before the hour mark.

Leboeuf was critical of Romero and his centre-back partner Nicolas Otamendi but admitted that the pair were not helped by Argentina’s midfielders.

The former Chelsea centre-back told ESPN FC: “Romero was, I mean, I didn’t expect such a bad performance from a central defender that I have seen doing his job normally.

“But him and Otamendi, they weren’t helped by Paredes and de Paul. For the second goal, there are like eight Argentina players in the box and nobody is capable of stopping the players or doing something.

“It’s not only your central defenders. But really the centre-backs (not good enough).”

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From the outside looking in, it appears as if neither Romero nor Lisandro Martinez were fit but Scaloni decided that he needs at least one of the two to start, and thus rushed back the Tottenham man. The decision has backfired and put Argentina’s chances of progressing to the knockout stages in jeopardy.

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