EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Seven goals, including a Lionel Messi hat trick, and two red cards meant those who showed up to New Jersey's MetLife Stadium hardly had a chance to blink in Argentina's 4-3 win over Brazil. Albiceleste head coach Alejandro Sabella said after the frantic win that this version of the legendary matchup was geared towards a U.S. audience.
"It was an emotional match, interesting to those who came to watch," Sabella said. "This was a game styled to the liking of the American public."
The particular game may have been styled for a U.S. audience, but it also fit in the larger plan of Sabella trying to style a winning team. The former Estudiantes boss thinks his team is beginning to congeal after years of haphazard, disjointed performances.
"Offense or defense, this team is one entity," he said. Still, Argentina leaned on a Messi hat trick to edge the match. The final goal in particular, when Messi streamed inside from the right flank and unleashed a dipping long-range shot, was impressive.
"Messi is in an exceptional moment. Lucky for me he's Argentinian and we can enjoy his talent," Sabella said. Figuring out how to use the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year has undone other Argentina coaches. Sabella has decided against copying the Barcelona model to lure the best out of the 25-year-old. "We try to play differently from Barcelona, a little more vertical because we don't have the players to try and employ that same system, but we try to take advantage of Messi's great qualities."
Brazil is also transitioning. Head coach Mano Menezes brought a young team to the United States to prepare for the Olympics. Despite romping to a 4-1 win over the U.S., Brazil has since lost to Mexico and Argentina. Sabella doesn't think his rival is far off from a complete team.
"Brazil's got a very good team, with great offensive power and they're always candidates to win. They have a great coach," Sabella said. "I would say that they need center backs to give them more experience and quality on the defensive side to make it a more complete squad."
Given the final score in New Jersey, Sabella might say the same thing about his own side.
John Rojas contributed additional reporting to this article
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