Sampaoli unhappy with Messi criticism

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Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli is unhappy with the criticism directed towards fellow Argentinian and Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi was criticised after being handed a four-match international ban for insulting an assistant referee during World Cup qualifying.

His absence was felt by Edgardo Bauza's men, who were beaten 2-0 by Bolivia in a costly loss last month.

Sampaoli, who saw Messi score twice in Barca's 3-0 victory over Sevilla on Wednesday, said criticism of the 29-year-old attacker - often questioned for his performances for Argentina - was unfair.

"I don't agree that the best in the world is criticised and even more so if he is Argentinian," he said.

"It's too much of a burden for us and we are proud that the best in the world is from our country."

Messi's brace after Luis Suarez's overhead kick helped Barca to their win, but they remain two points behind rivals and league leaders Real Madrid.