Sabella: Messi is water in the desert

The Albiceleste boss says his captain played "a wonderful game" in their win over Belgium and was delighted with his side's showing, which he described as their best yet in Brazil
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella says Lionel Messi is like "water in the desert" for the Albiceleste and believes every move made by the Barcelona forward is "a sign of hope" for his team.

For the first time in this tournament Messi ended a game without a goal or an assist as Argentina edged out Belgium 1-0, thanks to Gonzalo Higuain's strike, to seal a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Nevertheless, Sabella was delighted with his captain.

"Messi played a wonderful match," he told reporters after the game. "It’s about having the ball, bringing together three opponents. Every move he makes is a sign of hope for us. What he does is always decisive, it's beyond scoring goals. He almost never loses the ball and he draws rivals together.

"He's water in the desert. He doesn’t just score. The other day he played the pass for Di Maria to score against Switzerland. Today, when the terrain was dry, he gave us that breath of fresh air."

Sabella also saw signs of improvement in his side's 1-0 win over Belgium in Brasilia.

"This was our best game, we were balanced and we played well," he said. "It is a great joy for the squad and I am happy for the people, my family and everyone that has supported me."

The only blemish on an otherwise happy afternoon for Sabella was the injury suffered by Angel Di Maria which saw the Real Madrid winger limp off after 33 minutes.

"Di Maria's injury could be costly for us. Angel has a problem with his thigh and we'll undergo tests tomorrow."