Messi is irreplaceable, says Argentina boss Sabella

The former Estudiantes manager has stressed that they are a different team without their star player, but was happy with the side's performance against Italy on Wednesday

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has admitted that Lionel Messi is irreplaceable, but was pleased with his side's performance without the Barcelona star in Wednesday's 2-1 international friendly win over Italy.

Messi was forced to withdraw from the Argentina squad for the match in Rome due to a muscular problem yet, even though Sabella has highlighted the attacker's importance, the South American side put in a superb performance to beat the Euro 2012 finalists.

"When a team is used to playing with Messi, you can see the difference when he is not there," Sabella commented to reporters after Argentina's win.

"Messi is irreplaceable, but the character and desire we showed really pleased me."

Argentina - who top the South American qualifying section for the 2014 World Cup - are now unbeaten in their last seven matches.