Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli suggested his squad limit the impact of Lionel Messi at the World Cup, while Portugal manage to get the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi, who missed a penalty in Argentina's draw against Iceland in their opening Group D match, was frustrated for much of Thursday's clash with Croatia, as a 3-0 defeat put Sampaoli's side on the brink of an early exit.
Sampaoli has an array of attacking talent at his disposal, but has struggled to make it click, with Messi often tasked with directing all of Argentina's play.
While Messi is yet to get off the mark in Russia, rival Ronaldo has netted four times in two games, with his blistering header securing victory for Portugal against Morocco on Wednesday.
But the former Sevilla boss insists Messi should not be compared to Ronaldo, given the differences between Argentina and the current European champions.
"Ronaldo is an excellent player, you can look at all he has achieved in his career," Sampaoli said.
"Right now, we shouldn't compare these two players. With the reality of the Argentina squad, it sort of clouds Leo's brilliance.
"He's limited because the team doesn't gel with him ideally, as it should. As coaches, we need to deal with this.
"I've always looked for the best position for my players on the pitch. The playmaker carries a special burden. We didn't manage to find link-ups that would benefit Argentina and Leo."
Sampaoli has plenty of talent to choose from, but has struggled to fit the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Messi into the same side, while Juventus star Paulo Dybala has been ineffective from the bench.
Argentina must beat Nigeria in their final group game to stand a chance of progressing, and are relying on Iceland slipping up, but Sampaoli still has faith that his squad's quality can shine through.
"I thought we would put a lot of pressure on Croatia, in their half of the pitch, but after they scored we kind of lost our way," he added.
"We were emotionally broken and we didn't have any footballing way to change the course of events. If you don't have momentum, it's very difficult to move forward.
"I value my players a great deal, I think this is an excellent squad, but at no stage did we really gel and come together. We need to take advantage of this last match, fight for it, and hopefully go through."
|MLB investigated alleged Astros sign stealing, found no wrongdoing|
|Timberwolves star Wiggins to donate $22 for every point this NBA season|
|Red Sox´s Sale won´t start game five of ALCS|
|Tsitsipas and Shapovalov advance at Stockholm Open|
|Witsel to Dortmund is signing of the season - Martinez|
|Pique confident Nadal will play in 2019 Davis Cup|
|Seeds suffer in Moscow and Luxembourg|
|Johnstone grabs hat-trick as England ease past France|
|Pogba and Mourinho disagreement over Instagram video, confirms Pereira|
|Nuggets coach Malone signs contract extension|
|Mayweather accepts Khabib´s challenge: ´We´re fighting´|
|Slovenia sack Kavcic as head coach|
|Morgan and Rashid star as England win rain-reduced ODI in Sri Lanka|
|Romagnoli aims to make Gattuso proud in Milan derby|
|Naldo signs Schalke extension|
|Bills to start quarterback Anderson against Colts with Allen out|
|O´Sullivan makes 147 at ´hellhole´|
|Barcelona know when captain Messi is angry – Abidal|
|Bertens loss hands Pliskova last WTA Finals berth|
|Liverpool star Mane undergoes hand surgery|
|F1 Raceweek: Happy hunting ground for title-chasing Hamilton - US GP in numbers|
|Canelo signs record-breaking DAZN deal|
|England hit by another Vunipola injury absence|
|Gruden: Oakland Raiders ´aren´t tanking´|
|Chiesa focused and happy at Fiorentina|
|We´ll see what´s possible - Henry not limiting Monaco´s ambitions|
|Wembley sale off after Khan offer withdrawn|
|Football needs people like Arsene - Pires keen for Wenger return|
|Abbas five-for torments woeful Australia as Pakistan take control|
|Henry: Wenger and Guardiola inspirations for my coaching career|
|Pires backs Henry and Vieira for Ligue 1 success|
|Bolt rejects Valletta offer|
|Wenger ready for January return to management – but where?|
|NBA 2018-19: The LeBron James effect on teams he has joined|
|Svitolina qualifies for WTA Finals after Pliskova loses|
|Genoa will sell ´superstar´ Piatek, admits president|
|Moutinho targets European qualification with Wolves|
|Embiid: 76ers-Celtics isn´t a rivalry, they always kick our a**|
|Vinicius ´calm´ as he waits for Real Madrid chance|
|Nothing else to say - Ramos posts clip of supposed Sterling stamp|
|Chiellini joins Mind the Gap campaign to help players prepare for retirement|
|Injured Kusal Perera replaced by Kusal Mendis in Sri Lanka squad|
|Big names return for Scotland´s November Tests|
|Essien tells Loftus-Cheek to stay and fight for Chelsea chance|
|Nainggolan relishing challenge of first Milan derby|
|Curry: Slap me if I tire of championship celebrations|
|Sevilla don´t fear Messi or Barca – Kjaer|
|Low: Dropped Muller is still very important for Germany|
|Hayward put ´dark memories´ behind him with Celtics return|
|I hope I´m in Klopp´s good books! - Koeman jokes after resting Wijnaldum|
|Rested Fellaini should be fit for Manchester United, says Martinez|
|France´s mentality must be right - Lloris|
|Bellinger seals dramatic win as Dodgers level up NLCS|
|Curry, Durant lead Warriors past Thunder|
|Kjaer surprised by LaLiga-leading Sevilla as Machin´s men remain grounded|
|A-League preview: Honda the big arrival as fascinating season awaits|
|Mexico 0 Chile 1: Sanchez helps La Roja to late win|
|Celtics too good for 76ers in NBA opener|
|United States 1 Peru 1: Flores salvages late draw for visitors|
|Martinez not worried about Belgium depth|
|Red Sox move ahead of Astros in ALCS|
|Depay ´a joy to watch´, says Koeman|
|Timberwolves owner looking to trade Butler, backs Thibodeau|
|Shepard says Giants have ´total faith´ in Manning|
|Hazard is out of this world – De Ligt enjoys Belgium test|
|Tite: Brazil were better than Argentina|
|Foley eyes World Cup after re-signing with Wallabies, Waratahs|
|Low slams decisive France penalty call|
|I fined him for his goal at Old Trafford! Giggs delighted for Wales hero Wilson|
|Matuidi lauds Deschamps´ tactical nous after Germany win|