Messi tells Argentina he can’t win matches alone

AP, Tuesday 4 Oct 2011

Lionel Messi has sought to ease the pressure on him ahead of Argentina’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers, saying Tuesday he couldn’t win matches all on his own

Lionel Messi

The Barcelona star made the comments on his arrival in Buenos Aires before Friday’s game at home to Chile and next Tuesday’s match away to Venezuela.

Messi has never played as well for Argentina as he has for Barcelona. However, in this year’s Copa America he was the best Argentine player, although the team was still knocked out in the quarterfinals on penalties by eventual champion Uruguay.

“No one player alone wins a game,” Messi told reporters. “This is true with the national team, with Barcelona and everywhere. It’s important the team plays as a team.”

Messi has gone 16 games without scoring for Argentina in official matches—seven in World Cup qualifiers, five in the 2010 World Cup and four in the Copa America.

Messi will share the spotlight with new coach Alejandro Sabella, who was brought in after Sergio Batista was fired following Argentina’s exit from the Copa America in July. Sabella has guided Argentina in four friendlies, but the match against Chile will be the first that really counts.

The former coach of Argentine club Estudiantes has received favorable reviews in his first matches, showing more tactical acumen than Batista or Diego Maradona.

“He (Messi) has set up more goals than any other player,” Sabella said.“There is no reason to go crazy if he is not scoring goals. Almost all of Argentina’s goals come from his feet or his head.”

Sabella has dropped two regulars from Argentina’s Copa America squad: Inter Milan defender Javier Zanetti and Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez.

Sabella is also likely to use Boca Juniors midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme during the long qualifying process. Riquelme was discarded by Maradona but has recently led a revival at Boca Juniors.

“The World Cup qualifiers are a different kind of tournament, harder than any other,” Sabella said.

Argentina struggled in South American qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, waiting until the last match to claim the fourth and final automatic qualifying place from the continent.

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