Lionel Messi admitted on Saturday that Argentina must improve if they are to remain in contention for a third Fifa World Cup title. The Albiceleste struggled to break down a stubborn Iran at the Mineirao stadium on Saturday before a moment of Messi brilliance secured the team's second victory from as many matches in the tournament.
Argentina's Lionel Messi (centre) celebrates after scoring the team's lone goal against Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Saturday. Argentina won 1-0. (AP Photo)
"We struggled to find space but luckily we were able to win," Messi said after the match. "It's difficult to play against teams that close up like they did. We have to correct our errors. We are the first to realise that we aren't playing at the level we want to."
"Today, we were able to get three points which means we don't have to suffer in the last (group) match. I was very happy when I scored because all of us were trying to break their defence," the Argentinean captain said.
Argentina, World Cup winners in 1978 and 1986, enter the match against Nigeria on June 25 all guaranteed of a berth in the tournament's knockout phase. The clash in Porto Alegre is likely to attract hordes of Argentine fans, given the city's proximity to the Brazil-Argentina border.
Messi said fans' support would provide the team with an added edge. "Porto Alegre is very close to Argentina so we know that there will be a lot of fans there and that will be good for the team," he said.
Albiceleste coach Alejandro Sabella admitted his team had been reliant on Messi in their first two World Cup matches. "We want to improve obviously," he said.
"All players who played on Saturday have contributed to this victory, but of course we have a genius who is called Messi. Fortunately, he is Argentine. Everybody would have liked to have Messi but it is us who have him," said Sabella.