The Barcelona star hit the post and forced two good saves from Greece goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas last night, the second of which provided the rebound for veteran striker Martin Palermo to wrap up a 2-0 victory at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. Diego Maradona's side coasted through Group B with maximum points and seven goals, none of which have yet come from the mercurial feet of Messi.
That is a combination of bad luck and the close attention he is receiving - Sokratis Papastathopoulos rarely left his side in last night's game - but the knock-on effect is that team-mates are benefiting. "I know I still haven't scored but I'm not bothered about that," said Messi, who two days short of his 23rd birthday was made Argentina's youngest captain for the Greece game.
"Obviously I'd like to get a goal but it's only a question of time before it comes. The way Greece played made it tough for us. All they did was defend. Luckily we managed to impose ourselves again and we got another win, and that's what matters."
Maradona, who has been canny enough to give Messi a free role behind the two strikers as opposed to stationing him on the right wing where he occupies most of his time for Barcelona, is desperate for the No10 to score. "I was sorry Messi didn't get a goal," he said after the Greece victory. "I dived on the ground when his shot hit the post and if there'd been a swimming pool around I'd have jumped in head first."
Argentina now face Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday in a repeat of their last-16 clash four years ago in Germany. Then it took a wonder-goal from Maxi Rodriguez to settle the issue, and Juan Veron says that Argentina will not take Javier Aguirre's free-flowing side for granted.
"We are driven by our dreams and desires but we know this is a long tournament and if we do not have a cool head at any time we will stumble," said the 35-year-old Estudiantes midfielder. "Now it is inevitable we will meet good teams. We play Mexico and we must be prepared for whatever comes. We are going very well and we are all on the same wavelength, a factor that is key in a World Cup."