Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella on Friday rejected suggestions that his team are overly dependent on four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Sabella stressed the help that Messi gets from his team-mates.
"Any team that has a player like Messi will greatly depend on him," said Sabella, whose side face Belgium in the World Cup quarter-finals in Brasilia tomorrow. "But I believe that what he's doing is the work of the entire team. He's the best player in the world, but he's part of a team."
Messi helped to settle Argentina's last-16 tie against Switzerland with an extra-time assist for Angel Di Maria, but Sabella was eager to flag up the work of substitute Rodrigo Palacio in the build-up. "The goal the other day was a ball won by Palacios - a forward playing as a midfielder," Sabella added. "He gave it to Messi and Messi received it in a good position, which allowed him to pass the ball to Di Maria."
With four goals and two assists to his name, Messi has been directly responsible for six of the seven goals that Argentina have scored in Brazil. Sabella, though, feels it is unfair to suggest Argentina are over-reliant on the Barcelona superstar, who failed to score at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
"Four years ago he was criticised. Now they say we depend on Messi too much," said Sabella. "It's not easy."
Meanwhile, striker Sergio Aguero has given his coach a boost by training alongside his team-mates. The Manchester City striker had been considered a serious doubt for the game after a muscular problem ruled him out of his side's 1-0 victory over Switzerland in the last 16.
However, he took part in the warm-up and also did some ball work at Brasilia's Mane Garrincha National Stadium afternoon, in the part of the training session that was open to the media. If Aguero is deemed fit, coach Alejandro Sabella must decide whether to draft him straight into his starting XI or keep faith with Ezequiel Lavezzi, who deputised against the Swiss.
"He's doing pretty well," said Sabella. "We'll see how he responds today (Friday) and then see if he's able to be a member of the 23 on the bench." Sabella already knows that he must do without left-back Marcos Rojo due to suspension. Jose Maria Basanta from Mexican side Monterrey is in line to step in.