The 1986 World Cup winner launched a scathing attack on the defender and says his actions ruined his side’s hopes of getting anything from the game against Germany
Diego Maradona has slammed Portugal defender Pepe, labelling him “foolish” and “unprofessional” for his red card in their 4-0 defeat to Germany in their World Cup opener.
A flailing arm from the centre-back caught the face of Thomas Muller with the score at 2-0 and, in a bout of anger, the Real Madrid player pushed his head into the German striker, resulting in a straight red card.
And Maradona blasted Pepe for his actions, insisting he ruined his side’s chances of getting anything from the game, as Muller went on to complete his hat-trick in the comfortable win.
“It was just ridiculous to see him act so foolishly,” he wrote in Times of India. “It’s true Muller played his role to perfection in the act but there was absolutely no need for Pepe to do what he did.
“His unprofessionalism snuffed out any hopes his team may have had of coming back in the game.”
Germany had already moved into a two-goal lead prior to Pepe’s red thanks to Muller’s penalty and a Mats Hummels header, but Maradona believes they were fortunate to be awarded the early spot-kick.
“The penalty through which Germany broke the deadlock was really soft. Joao Pereira did foul Mario Gotze but the Bayern Munich midfielder made the most of it and the Serbian referee obliged,” he said.
“But take nothing away from the Germans. They were superb as always.”
The 1986 World Cup winner praised Joachim Low’s side for the way they handled Cristiano Ronaldo and he believes the Real Madrid talisman is critical to his country’s chances in the competition.
“Cristiano Ronaldo was not allowed to be the player he is for Real Madrid. There was tight zonal marking on him and he had to try shots from a distance.
“The last time he had scored in the World Cup was against North Korea in 2010. He will have to inspire his team in the two remaining matches against the USA and Ghana to earn a spot in the round of 16.”
Maradona then turned his attention to Spain, who he feels can recover from their 5-1 humiliation at the hands of Netherlands provided head coach Vicente Del Bosque is careful with his tactics.
“Spain can bounce back if their old soldiers fire,” he added. “Del Bosque has to rethink strategy and give players like Koke a chance to play the all-important tie at the Maracana.
“It’s a do or die battle for a team which won three major trophies since 2008. However, with a draw they can still survive the group if they beat the Socceroos by a big margin and Chile suffer a big defeat against Netherlands.”